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December 14th, 2011 By Rick Pender | Arts & Culture | Posted In: Arts community, Theater, Classical music

Governor's Awards Recognize Cincinnatians

Playhouse leaders, music philanthropist will be honored in May

ed stern (jan 2011)Cincinnati Playhouse artistic leader Ed Stern and his business partner Buzz Ward will are the 2012 Arts Professionals of the Year in Ohio. - Photo provided by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Among the eight winners announced for the 2012 Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio are several Cincinnatians. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern, who retires at the end of the current theater season, and Executive Director Buzz Ward have been named the recipient of the year’s recognition in the field of Arts Administration. Louise D. Nippert will be honored in the category of Arts Patron.

For several years the statewide awards have overlooked Cincinnati candidates, but this year the city is honored to have the winners in two categories named by a committee of members of the Ohio Arts Council and representatives from Ohio Citizens for the Arts who evaluated 67 nominees.

I was among those who endorsed the theater administrators for this recognition. Here’s some of what I wrote: “Buzz and Ed are a remarkable team, with the former responsibly handling business matters and the latter making astute artistic decisions. The Playhouse has an uncanny record of success, serving audiences that sometimes want comfortable entertainment and other times revel in seeing boundaries pushed with new plays. These men’s vision of theater encompasses mainstream plays, touring shows for young audiences and avant-garde material. They have been collaborative players in the region’s larger arts community, working with other organizations to advance the cause of the arts in Greater Cincinnati and beyond.”

I added that I have written about the Playhouse for national publications such as American Theatre magazine, interviewing award-winning playwrights, actors and designers. “To a person,” I observed, “they call the Cincinnati Playhouse the most professional theater company they have experienced, an institution that has enabled them to realize their full artistic potential. Stern and Ward have assembled and retained a team of theater artists who work magic every day of the year. You could find no better pair of arts administrators to recognize with this award than Ed Stern and Buzz Ward.”

I’m so glad that the review committee agreed with the opinions of many of us from Greater Cincinnati.

It’s also great — although about a year overdue — that Mrs. Nipper is being recognized. Her establishment of the Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund with a gift of $85 million in 2009 will sustain classical music of the highest quality. The fund ensures a lasting legacy of classical music in Cincinnati by helping to maintain the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as a full-time ensemble and supporting its services as the resident orchestra for Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet. Her gift ranks among the most generous made by any individual to arts institutions in the United States.

In fact, Mrs. Nippert has been selected to join an elite group of individuals who have received more than one Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. In 1998, she was also honored as an Arts Patron. However, her generosity during the past decade, ensuring that musical arts in Cincinnati will thrive for generations, has been deemed worthy of additional recognition.

Ed Stern, Buzz Ward and Louise Nippert are a classy trio. They'll be honored at the Governor's Awards for the Arts Luncheon in Columbus on May 9, 2012.

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