Kay Armstrong, Dallas, TX.
Kay has a long history of providing leadership benefitting community theatre at local, state, regional, and national levels. Prior to her 26-year involvement with AACT, Kay co-founded a community theatre in Glenview, Illinois and later, as Executive Director, assisted the Oklahoma Community Theatre Association (OCTA) in the formation of nine new theatres. While with OCTA, Kay also supervised the creation of a playwriting competition, youth conference, and traveling board development seminar. She coordinated five state and two regional AACT festivals, and increased the visibility and credibility of community theatres by serving on the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Grants Committee and the Oklahoma Arts Institute’s Theatre Selection Panel. In her service to AACT, Kay has served on numerous committees and provided guidance as the VP for Festivals and as Festival Commission Chair.
Kay is small in stature but a giant in passion, support, and leadership for making community theatres thrive!
1987 Art Cole* (Midland, TX)
1988 Sydney Spayde* (Iowa City, IA)
John Wray Young* (Shreveport, LA)
1989 Mort Clark* (North White Plains, NY)
1991 Sherwood Lohrey (Memphis, TN)
1992 Harv Thompson (Madison, WI)
1993 Norman McPhee (Racine, WI)
1994 Jim Carver (Kalamazoo, MI)
1995 Enid Holm* (Odessa, TX)
1996 Betty Tomlinson* (Spokane, WA)
1998 L. Ross Rowland* (Muncie, IN)
1999 Bea Miller* (Memphis, TN)
2000 Rusty Clauss (Alexandria, VA)
2001 Rod McCullough (Lancaster, PA)
2002 Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)
2003 Shirley Harbin (Detroit, MI)
2004 John Viars (Des Moines, IA)
2005 Jack Phillips (Downers Grove, IL)
2008 Joanne Berry (Bay City, MI)
Stephen Peithman (Davis, CA)
2009 Frank Peot (Sun Prairie, WI)
2010 Tom Cowley (Ponca City, OK)
2011 Jim Sohre (Army Europe Command Entertainment
Sherman C. Ward* (Alexandria Bay, NY)
2012 Bill Muchow (Minneapolis, MN)
2013 Mary Britt (Ocala, FL)
2014 Murray Chase (Venice, FL)
2014 Norman Small (Winter Haven, FL)
2016 Ginger Heath (Monroe, NC)
2017 Julie Crawford (Fort Worth, Texas)
Linda M. Lee (Fort Worth, Texas)
This 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.