Cleveland Arts Prize announces 2021 winners


CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Arts Prize has announced its 2021 winners, along with its special award winners, recognizing artists, performers and advocates in Northeast Ohio for their achievements and contributions to the art scene.

This year marks the 61st annual Cleveland Arts Prize, which has been in existence since 1960. Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Gartner Auditorium of the Cleveland Museum of Art on Wednesday, October 13.

The winners of the arts awards are nominated in various categories based on their level of experience: emerging artists, mid-career artists and lifelong accomplishments. The winners receive a prize of $ 10,000.

Additionally, CAP honors established artists and advocates through special honorary awards, which were also announced on Monday.

Find more information about the Cleveland Arts Prize at and see all of the winners below:

Emerging artists: Deuil A [BLK]star, Lauren Yeager

Afrofuturist collective Mourning A [BLK]star and sculptor Lauren Yeager were honored in the group of emerging artists.

Mourning [A] BLKstar has released four acclaimed albums since its formation in 2016. The group’s eight members – James Longs, LaToya Kent, Kyle Kidd, Dante Foley, Theresa May, Pete Saudek, William Washington and RA Washington – have all been recognized.

Yeager works primarily in sculpture and photography, often using found objects to center his work. Yeager’s designs can be found in various collections including the Cleveland Clinic, Worthington Yards, Metro Health and more.

Mid-Career Artists: Alice Ripley, Corrie Slawson

Tony-winning actress Alice Ripley has credits in Playhouse Square performances, as well as on TV and Broadway shows. Beyond his acting, Ripley also creates music with his band Ripley and creates original paintings and digital designs.

Slawson creates works of art around themes related to environmentalism. His multi-layered paintings and collages have been shown locally and around the world.

Realization of a Lifetime: Raymond McNiece

Raymond McNiece, the current Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate, has published 11 books of poems, monologues and CDs. McNiece has toured the world with his works and he leads the Tongue-in-Groove group, a poetic music group.

Robert P. Bergman Award: Joseph J. Garry, Jr.

Joseph J. Garry, Jr.’s 1970s production “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Lives in Paris” helped revive Playhouse Square. With his late partner David Frazier, Garry hosted “Odysseys & Ovations,” an arts show on PBS. Garry also headed the Department of Theater at Cleveland State University and hosts the “Broadway Buzz” lectures at Playhouse Square.

Martha Joseph Award: Sean Watterson

Sean Watterson co-founded the Happy Dog 13 years ago, and the place has continued to host thousands of musicians, thinkers, comics and more. Watterson’s recent work with the National Independent Venue Association has helped secure federal funding for independent sites impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Barbara S. Robinson Award: Clara Rankin

Clara Rankin is a long-time board member of the Cleveland Museum of Art, a member of the Cleveland Museum of Art Women’s Council, and a director of the Cleveland Orchestra board. Rankin also founded the Hopewell nonprofit in 1993.

Special quote: Franz Welser-Möst

Franz Welser-Möst, conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. Welser-Möst is the oldest musical director of the Cleveland Orchestra at 20 years old.

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