Shelley Cohn, the former Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, is the recipient of Equity's 2007 Arizona Theatre Service Award. The award was presented to Ms. Cohn at the Union's membership meeting on Oct 8, 2007 at the Phoenix Theatre.
The Arizona Theatre Service Award is presented annually by the Phoenix/Tucson Actors' Equity Association Liaison Committee to recognize significant contribution and service to the Arizona theatre community. Charles St. Clair, a past Phoenix/Tucson Equity Liaison Chair and co-founder and artistic director of the Fairmont Theater of the Deaf and Phoenix's Black Theater Troupe, made the presentation. Past recipients of the Arizona Theatre Service Award include former theatre critic Max McQueen, university professors/actors/directors David Vining (ASU) and Harold Dixon (UA) and actor Benjamin Stewart.
"Shelley was selected this year because of her efforts to not only promote theatre and other performing arts, but to also help those theatres and all Arizona arts organizations find more financial stability," said Tony Hodges, Chair of the Phoenix/Tucson Equity Liaison Committee. "The Commission on the Arts touches the lives of nearly every Arizonan at some point," he added, "and Shelley played the lead role for more than twenty years in emphasizing how vital the arts are to the state's quality of life."
In addition to Messrs. Hodges and St. Clair, a "who's who" of AZ directors, producers and funding organizations attended the ceremony, including: Robert Booker, Executive Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts; Jennifer Tsukayama, Performing Arts Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts; Brenda Sperduti, Executive Director, Arizona Citizens for the Arts; Tom Chapman, Arizona Action for the Arts Board of Trustees; Clair West, Arizona Ballet; Matthew Wiener, Artistic Director, Actors Theatre of Phoenix; Janet Arnold, Artistic Director, Arizona Jewish Theatre; Michael Barnard, Artistic Director, and Daniel Shay, Managing Director, Phoenix Theatre; Will Prather, Executive Producer, Broadway Palm West Dinner Theatre; and dozens of the more than 240 Equity Actors who live and work in the state of Arizona.
Cohn joined the Commission on the Arts in 1976 after earning her masters degree in Humanities from Arizona State University. She become Executive Director in 1984, a post she held until retiring in 2005, and was instrumental in motivating Arizona state legislators to expand the budget of the nationally recognized Commission from $600,000 to $3.4 million, as well as the creation of Arizona ArtShare, the public/private endowment for the arts, and the Arizona Arts Trust Fund.
Cohn has served on panels of the National Endowment for the Arts as well as on boards that focus on arts issues, such as Grantmakers in the Arts, the Western States Arts Federation, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. She also serves or has served on the boards of ASU Hillel, the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau. Cohn is on the faculty at ASU's Center for Nonprofit Leadership and Management where she teaches a graduate level course on Art and Public Policy. She has temporarily suspended her retirement to serve as interim CEO for the Scottsdale Cultural Council until a permanent replacement is selected.
Presentation of the 2007 Phoenix-Tucson Liaison Committee Theatre Service Award:
(L to R) Phoenix/Tucson Liaison Committee Members Mike Lawler, Liora Danine, Karyn Lynn Dale, Erica McKibben Black, David Coffman, Award Honoree Shelley Cohn, Charles St. Clair, Tony Hodges