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

2018 Honoree
Kay ArmstrongKay 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!

Previous Recipients

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)

          * 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.



Authorize.Net Merchant - Click to Verify Credit Card Merchant Services