Jay C. Sarno, a leader in the San Diego arts community who helped shepherd North Coast Repertory Theatre from a small community playhouse to a leading Equity Theatre, received the Lucy Jordan Award at the San Diego Area Membership Meeting in May.
The Lucy Jordan Award is a humanitarian award exclusive to the Western Region, named for former performer and Actors' Equity staff member Lucy Jordan. She brought a love of theater and a love for everyone involved to her job, as well as respect, fairness and a willingness to fight for what she believed in. She knew what it meant to make both a career and a living in theater, and that understanding was deeply appreciated by all who met her.
In memory of Lucy, the award celebrates those in the Western Region’s theatrical family who go above and beyond to help Equity members be our best; people who make the work experience special and better in their own way. Jay Sarno is exactly such a person. In presenting the award to Sarno, John Herzog beautifully captured his impact on the theatrical community of San Diego, and we reprint his remarks below:
Jay Sarno is a past President and current 1st Vice President, of North Coast Repertory Theatre and has sat on the board since 1985. Over that time NCRT has evolved from a non-union, community-based theatre to a full-time professional theatre using an average of 40 contracts per season.
Jay is an electrical engineer by trade and is Vice President and partner in Crescent Design, a manufacturer of factory automation and test equipment.
The stories of Jay Sarno's volunteering and support of theatre in San Diego are legend: the times he's climbed on the roof of theatres to fix the air conditioner, or been called to come and fix light board melt downs, sound equipment failures—and often in emergency situations before a show could begin. He's painted bath rooms, fixed broken toilets, helped with set building and made himself available to what generally needs to be done. As he said on accepting the Lucy Jordan award, "People will say, somebody ought to do this or that, but there is no one named 'somebody.' So, if I see a problem that needs attention, I just fix it so it gets done."
Jay's largess extends far beyond NCRT. Because of his theatrical knowledge and extensive experience in business, he's consulted with many theatres on how to build and run their organizations. Jay is a member of Theatre Communications Group Trustee Network, and he's a supporter both financially and with his time to a half dozen or more theatres in San Diego County. He and his wife Julie subscribe to nine theatre seasons annually and give additional financial support to a dozen. They attend theatre at least once or twice a week and sometimes it's three or four times. They regularly open their home to house out-of-town Equity Members, and every tech weekend they host a dinner for the cast and crew during the two-hour break.
It all adds up to this one fact: Jay Sarno is a theatre mensch, and all of us who work and aspire to create art and purpose through theatre are much better off than we would be otherwise because of his efforts.