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Cleveland Arts Prize Readies 60th Birthday Celebration

A pioneering municipal arts award is getting ready to celebrate its 60th birthday. Members of the Women’s City Club of Cleveland created the Cleveland Arts Prize (CAP) in 1960 to honor artistic achievement across the region. Winners have included legendary national figures like writer Toni Morrison, optical artist Julian Stanczak, and designer Viktor Schreckengost, along with dozens of up-and-coming painters, poets, musicians and dancers.

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1978 Cleveland Arts Prize winner Toni Morrison [Timothy Greenfield-Sander]

For this year’s special anniversary, executive director Alenka Banco said the decision was made to pause the annual artist awards and highlight CAP’s honor roll of talent. “We felt the anniversary year was a perfect opportunity to celebrate past winners --- a reunion of sorts, a tribute,” she said.

Organizers are calling that tribute “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” and it will feature past winners, performers and some special awards to local community leaders for their promotion and preservation of the local arts scene.

Former Cuyahoga Community College president, Jerry Sue Thornton, will get the Barbara S. Robinson Prize for advancement of the arts.

Steven A. Minter and John Edwin Katzenmeyer will both posthumously receive the Robert P. Bergman Prize for their leadership on many local arts and cultural boards.

Roe Green, Char and Chuck Fowler and Scott Mueller will be honored with the Martha Joseph Prize for their contributions to the vitality of the arts through their leadership and philanthropic work.

United Way of Greater Cleveland executive Helen Forbes Fields will receive a special citation for her wide-ranging leadership in pushing for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the arts.

Due to Covid-19 concerns, the CAP 60th Annual Awards Ceremony will be a virtual event, streamed live on October 29th at 8:00 p.m.

A couple days after the event wraps, Alenka Banco steps down from her Cleveland Arts Prize post, after seven years in charge. Her new mission will be to help create a museum that honors the legacy of another noted Cleveland artist – the late Rev. Albert Wagner. Wagner’s been the subject of numerous national articles and a documentary. For years, his base of operations was an immense house in East Cleveland, which will be transformed into the museum.

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After the 60th anniversary celebration, CAP executive director Alenka Banco is stepping down to help establish a museum honoring Cleveland artist Rev. Albert Wagner [Robert Muller]

My attention to Wagner is overdue and I am excited about the move,” she said. “I believe in the project and I am committed to making sure it happens.” 

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