Alumni commitment to the arts to be showcased at area awards

Case Western Reserve University’s finest are earning major recognition on the Cleveland arts scene, with alumni taking home five of the 13 Cleveland Arts Prizes that will be awarded during the 51st annual event on June 28.

Marcie Goodman (WRC ’77), Marsha Dobrzynski (SAS ’96), Natalie Epstein (FSM ’49, GRS ’74), Tom Hinson (GRS ’76) and A. Grace Lee Mims (LYS ’53) will be recognized for their contributions, which have expanded community participation in the arts and helped make the region more open to artistic expression.

Goodman, executive director of the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), will be awarded with the Robert P. Bergman Prize, which recognizes leaders whose lives and work are devoted to creating a democratic vision of the arts. The award is a special prize that is only given occasionally, when a leader truly exemplifies the characteristics of the Bergman Prize: innovative efforts to break down barriers to appreciation of the arts; effective communication of the relevance of the arts in daily life; the ability to create and maintain partnerships among artists, organizations and the community; and the power to transform people’s experience of the arts.

Under Goodman’s leadership, CIFF has become internationally recognized and continues to set new records for individual day and total attendance. In 2011, the 35th annual event welcomed 72,000 attendees.

Dobrzynski, Epstein, Hinson and Mims will all be awarded the Martha Joseph Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts. They are the only four recipients of the award. The Martha Joseph Prize is awarded annually to individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to the vitality and stature of the arts in the area in a variety of ways.

Dobrzynski serves as the executive director of Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio, an integrated program with more than 30 arts, cultural, philanthropic and educational institutions. Through her work at the organization since 1994, she has grown Young Audiences to serve more than 242,000 children a year while operating on a budget of nearly $2 million. Under her leadership, Young Audiences became the operating agency for Initiative for Cultural Arts In Education, now known as Art is Education. She also introduced ArtWorks, an arts-based job-readiness program for high schoolers.

Hinson recently retired after serving for more than 30 years as the associate curator of modern and contemporary art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. While at the museum, he made a name for himself with his consistently impressive selections for the museum, including the small but significant collection of photography that gained acclaim throughout his tenure.

A longtime supporter of the university’s theater program, Epstein is credited with helping shape the arts at Case Western Reserve. She founded The Friends of Eldred Theater, which she still leads, and was a capital campaign co-chair for the College of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, from 1996 to 2004, she served on the university’s Visiting Committee and the Special Task Force on the Need for a Performing Arts Center, and she has served on the board of directors for the Cleveland Play House and the Great Lakes Theatre Festival.

Finally, Mims, who is a member of Cleveland Institute of Music’s voice faculty, is best known for her 35 years as hostess, producer and developer of WCLV’s The Black Arts, a radio broadcast featuring African-American composers and performers. She also hosted the daily Artslog radio show. Mims served as the head librarian at Glenville High School, where she created one of the most extensive school-based collections of materials on African-American history and culture in Ohio, including all genres of music.

The Cleveland Arts Prize was created in 1960 and is the oldest award of its kind in the U.S. The awards will be given June 28 at 6 p.m. at the Gartner Auditorium in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Find ticket information online.