Wade wins prestigious state award

Eight winners — including Cincinnati’s Kathy Wade — have been selected to receive governor’s awards for the arts in Ohio.

A tradition since 1971, the governor’s awards showcase and celebrate exceptional Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts leaders and patrons, educators and business support of the arts. Award recipients are presented with the only arts award in the state that is conferred by the governor.

Kathy Wade

Wade is a successful business owner, producer, writer, entrepreneur and award-winning jazz vocalist with more than four decades of involvement with the arts, performance and community building.

In recognition of their impactful and visionary leadership in Ohio’s creative sector and their sustained dedication to promoting artistic excellence, awardees will be honored during a ceremony May 17.

“Ohio features a wealth of artistic talent, creative entrepreneurs, and innovative arts leaders and educators. Our shared strength in the arts makes the Buckeye state a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins. “We’re proud to showcase and celebrate Ohio’s cultural assets through the governor’s awards for the arts.”

Each of the winners will receive an original work of art by painter Brian Robinson of Dover.

The 2023 award recipients and categories are:

  • Arts Administration: Kathy Wade, Cincinnati (Hamilton County);
  • Arts Education: Dr. Douglas Marrah, Ashland (Ashland);
  • Arts Patron: Louella Reese, Granville (Licking);
  • Business Support of the Arts: Walnut Street Gallery, LLC, Wooster (Wayne);
  • Community Development and Participation (co-winner): Michael London, Dayton (Montgomery);
  • Community Development and Participation (co-winner): Black Swamp Arts Festival, Bowling Green (Wood);
  • Individual Artist: Tricia Kaman, Cleveland (Cuyahoga);
  • Irma Lazarus Award: Ann Hamilton, Columbus (Franklin).

In 1992, Wade and her late husband, Dan Jenkins, founded Learning Though Art Inc., to bring together everything she was already doing to serve the community through performance and education. The nonprofit organization provides arts programming and hosts events, including craft festivals for kids, jazz concerts and the three-time Emmy-winning “Books Alive! for Kids Virtual Adventures.” Since its inception, the organization has served more than one million people of all ages and backgrounds through its community arts and educational programming.

A Cincinnati native and graduate of Withrow High School, Kathy’s parents introduced her to jazz at an early age. She holds a BA in sociology from Edgecliff College, which later merged with Xavier University, and an MA in arts administration from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. A trailblazer, she was one of the first graduates of the institution’s arts administration program and the first Black woman to do so. Her experiences in the program and career as a performer led her to create “A Black Anthology of Music,” an educational performance presentation that explores the history of jazz. Throughout her academic and business pursuits, Kathy — whose family has called Ohio home for five generations — has maintained an active career as a performer here in the Buckeye state and around the world. She’s been a featured guest with the Cincinnati Pops and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, sung in New York City’s premiere jazz clubs, and opened for such legendary performers as Dionne Warwick, Kenny G, Whitney Houston and more. Since the 1980s, she has served as a cultural and jazz ambassador to Cincinnati’s Sisters Cities, which include Munich, Germany; Kharkiv, Ukraine; and Nancy, France.


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