Dayton arts organization wins one of state’s top prizes

A Dayton organization has won one of the most prestigious awards presented by the state of Ohio.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Daytonians to be honored today with Ohio arts awards (May 2018)

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize will receive the Irma Lazarus Award at the 2019 Arts Day and Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio luncheon and ceremony at noon Wednesday, May 15, at the Columbus Athenaeum in downtown Columbus. 

The news was announced on Jan. 23.

“We are honored to join the many individual artists and arts organizations from Dayton who have won Governor’s Awards in the Arts in the past,” said Sharon Rab, Dayton Literary Peace Prize founder and co-chair. “We are proud to continue the awareness throughout the state of the thriving arts scene in Dayton, Ohio, and we are delighted that the literary arts have joined the other arts in the winners’ circle.”

Eight other individuals and institutions will also receive awards at the event.

The Lazarus Award is given to individuals or organizations that have “helped shape public support for the arts through their work as advocates and have brought national and international recognition to Ohio through sustained dedication to artistic excellence,” according to the Ohio Arts Council’s website.

Established in 2006 as an offshoot of the Dayton Peace Prize, The Dayton Literary Peace Prize awards a $10,000 cash prize each year to one fiction and one nonfiction author "whose work advances peace as a solution to conflict, and leads readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions and political points of view."

Rab said 72 writers from 20 different countries have been awarded in her organization’s 14-year history.

“Reading the words, hearing the stories, meeting the writers from cultures and perspectives other than the familiar, allows the reader to explore sources of frustrations and anger as well as hopes and dreams of people outside his or her known world,” she said.  “Abandoning assumptions and understanding another point of view as legitimate is a step toward peace.”

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"Salt Houses" author Hala Alyan won the 2018 Fiction Award. The Nonfiction Award went to Ta-Nehisi Coates for "We Were Eight Years in Power."

Min Jin Lee, the author of "Pachinko," was the Fiction Runner-up. The Nonfiction Runner-up was Michelle Kuo for "Reading with Patrick."

>> RELATED: (July 17, 2018)  'The Cider House Rules' author John Irving wins 2018 lifetime literary peace prize award

"The names of those who have come to Dayton each year read like a who's who of world literature, including Louise Erdrich, Marilynne Robinson, Junot Diaz, Dave Eggers, Taylor Branch and Geraldine Brooks, to name but a few," "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boy, and the Dawn of a New Americas" writer Gilbert King said in a letter supporting the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's nomination for the governor's award. "Any writer who has ever been awarded a Dayton Literary Peace Prize Award and who has attended the ceremonies will readily affirm that this award is not just another literary award."

Gilbert was the 2013 runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction.

The Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award is given to writers whose body of work reflects the Dayton Literary Peace Prize awards.

The 2018 recipient of the Holbrooke award was John Irving, the writer of a long list of classics that include "The World According to Garp," "The Cider House Rules" and "A Prayer for Owen Meany."

The Holbrooke award is named for Richard Holbrooke, an American diplomat credited with brokering the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord that stopped the war between Bosnian, Croat and Serb forces in the Balkans.

“The Dayton Literary Peace Prize promotes both excellent literature and peace in the world, building on the successful Dayton Peace Accords of 1995,” former Ohio Governor Robert Taft said in a letter supporting the organization nomination for the Lazarus Award.

Curricula the Peace Prize created based on winning books is used in Ohio high school and university classes.

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Tens of thousands of high school and college students have seen presentations through Dayton Literary Peace Prize and University and Library Consortiums.

•The Governor's Award for Arts Administration will be awarded to Phyllis Gorfain, artistic director of Oberlin Drama at Grafton in Oberlin.

• Ronette Burkes, warden at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, and RJ Thompson, assistant professor of graphic and interactive design at  Youngstown State University, will receive the community development and participation award.

• The Individual Artist Award will be given to Leslie Adams of Toledo an Mark Lomaz II of Columbus.

• The Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati will receive the Arts Education Award; Sallie and Randolph Wadsworth will receive the Arts Patron award and Owens Corning of Toledo will receive the Business Support of the Arts Award.

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