Art Cole Award | AACT

Art Cole Award

Art Cole Lifetime of Leadership
Honors a lifetime of leadership in community theatre by members of AACT who have provided leadership at the national level, in addition to local and/or regional levels

2023 Honorees

Ron ZieglerRon Ziegler (North Port, Florida) retired from his position as Festivals Coordinator at AACT, capping a theatre career of more than 40 years. After receiving his master’s degree from the University of South Dakota, he served on the staff at Waukesha (WI) Civic Theatre, Sioux Falls (SD) Community Playhouse, and Orlando (FL) Repertory Theatre. He was then named the first Artistic/Managing Director for the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre at the Des Moines (IA) Playhouse While in Des Moines, he also founded and managed the Iowa Fringe Festival. He served as Member-at-Large on the AACT Board of Directors, and later as Treasurer and President of AACT, Named an AACT Fellow, he joined the organization staff as Field Services Director in 2009. Ron has adjudicated state and regional theatre festivals across the US and abroad, including AACTFest 2007. He has directed for theatres in Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Kentucky, Florida, and Germany.

Photo of Mary DovetonMary Doveton (Lawrence, Kansas) has produced and directed hundreds of shows in professional, educational, and community theatres. She holds theatre degrees from Clarke University and the University of Kansas. Mary founded Theatre Lawrence in the mid-seventies and served as its Executive Director until her retirement in 2023. She guided Theatre Lawrence through years of growth, punctuated by fire and flood, and several major building campaigns. Her leadership ultimately culminated in the design and construction of a multi-million-dollar 35,000 sq. ft. theatre/education facility that opened in 2013. Nationally, Mary adjudicated theatre festivals on the state, regional, and national levels, and served on the Board of AACT, as well as Treasurer and Vice-President for Education. In 2009 she was named an AACT Fellow. Mary also served as a Regional Mentor for the Kansas Arts Network and as President of the Association of Kansas Theatres.

Previous Recipients

2022  Michael Spicer (Salina, Kansas)
2021 Dennis Gilmore* (Indio, California)
2020 Kathy Pingel (North Port, Florida)
2019 Tim Jebsen (Midland, TX)
2018 Kay Armstrong (Dallas, TX)
2017 Julie Crawford (Fort Worth, Texas)
         Linda M. Lee (Fort Worth, Texas)
2016 Ginger Heath (Monroe, NC)
2014 Murray Chase (Venice, FL)
2014 Norman Small (Winter Haven, FL)
2013 Mary Britt* (Ocala, FL)
2012  Bill Muchow* (Minneapolis, MN)
2011  Jim Sohre (Army Europe Command Entertainment
          Sherman C. Ward* (Alexandria Bay, NY)
2010  Tom Cowley (Ponca City, OK)
2009  Frank Peot (Sun Prairie, WI)
2008  Joanne Berry (Bay City, MI)
          Stephen Peithman (Davis, CA
2005  Jack Phillips (Downers Grove, IL)
2004  John Viars (Des Moines, IA)

2003  Shirley Harbin* (Detroit, MI)
2002  Twink Lynch* (Topeka, KS)
2001  Rod McCullough* (Lancaster, PA)
2000  Rusty Clauss (Alexandria, VA)
1999  Bea Miller* (Memphis, TN)
1998  L. Ross Rowland* (Muncie, IN)
1996  Betty Tomlinson* (Spokane, WA)
1995  Enid Holm* (Odessa, TX)
1993  Norman McPhee (Racine, WI)
1994  Jim Carver* (Kalamazoo, MI)
1992  Harv Thompson (Madison, WI)
1991  Sherwood Lohrey (Memphis, TN)
1989  Mort Clark* (North White Plains, NY)
1988  Sydney Spayde* (Iowa City, IA)
          John Wray Young* (Shreveport, LA)
1987   Art Cole* (Midland, TX)

          * Deceased

Art Cole

Photo of Art ColeThis award is named in honor of Art Cole, who founded the Midland Community Theater in 1946. He served as president of the Southwest Theater Conference, chairman of the Theater Panel for Gov. John Connally’s Texas Conference on the Arts, and vice president of the National Theater Conference. He was one of the small band of community theatre directors and visionaries to meet in Chicago in 1958, under the aegis of the American Educational Theatre Association (which latter became the American Theatre Association), to found the American Community Theatre Association as a provisional program of AETA.  ACTA became a full-fledged division of AETA in 1963, and Art served as President from 1968-70.

He organized the first national community theatre festival and was elected to the Governing Council of the International Amateur Theater Association. He was the first recipient of the American Community Theater Association’s David Bryant Award and was named best director at the International Drama Festival in Dundalk, Ireland, with the production of Butterflies are Free.  He also was an AACT Fellow, and chairman of the Theater Advisory Panel to the Texas Commission on the Arts and president of the International Amateur Theater Association. He died in 2013 at the age of 92.



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