Alenka Banco Announced As New Executive Director of the Cleveland Arts Prize


After serving as Interim Director of the Cleveland Arts Prize since Sept. 2013, Alenka Banco was formally announced this week as the organization’s next Executive Director. She’s been a trustee since 2006, and stepped in as Interim Director after Marcie Bergman departed. The Board of Trustees’ vote was unanimous.

During the interim period, Stuart Mendel, Director of Cleveland State’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, led a restructuring effort with CAP’s Board of Trustees. “The process, which lasted nearly a year, energized and strengthened the organization. We broadened our scope of awards, refined our nomination procedure, and continue to develop a well-conceived approach to the growth and sustenance as we enter our second half century of service. We are on a clear path toward future economic vibrancy,” explains Banco.

“Alenka not only has a thorough knowledge and long involvement in the Cleveland Arts Prize, she is highly respected by the community of artists and brings professional experience in business and community development,” says Barbara Robinson, Chair of the Cleveland Arts Prize’s Board of Trustees.

Banco is indeed widely and roundly respected. She’s the owner of Josaphat Arts Hall (formerly the St. Josaphat Catholic Church), which includes Convivium33, an art gallery, and Streets of Manhattan Studios, a glass studio in the basement. Her work as Business Development Specialist at Northeast Shores Development Corporation has been instrumental in the current turnaround of Collinwood’s Waterloo Arts District.

“Alenka has made a tremendous impact on the Waterloo Arts District and the neighborhood,” says Northeast Shores’ Executive Director Brian Friedman. “Working with her has been fantastic. We hope to stay engaged with the Cleveland Arts Prize as Alenka joins them full time.”
In order to focus on her responsibilities with the Cleveland Arts Prize, she has decided to scale back her efforts at Josaphat Arts Hall, and announced plans to resign from her position at Northeast Shores.

Additionally, CAP’s Board of Trustees officially announced the location of the future home of the Cleveland Arts Prize – on the new campus of the Cleveland Institute of Art in University Circle. “It is a natural alliance,” says CIA’s President Grafton Nunes. “CIA has attracted first-rate artists to Cleveland to serve on its faculty and trained generations of artists who have enriched our lives. CAP has honored many of them and continues to set high standards for art appreciation that serve as a beacon to us all.”

CIA’s construction is almost complete, and, for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, the campus will be unified under one roof during the 2015-2016 academic year.

"The Cleveland Arts Prize is enthusiastic to be locating their office within the region's Cultural District and we are looking forward to strengthening our relationships with Cleveland's venerable arts institutions” says Robert Maschke, FAIA, CAP 2011, Vice Chair of CAP’s Board of Trustees. “I am grateful to Grafton for his continued support of the Cleveland Arts Prize and see this as an opportunity to connect to the future generation of art leaders in our region, bringing a deeper awareness of CAP awardees, while mentoring future nominees,” adds Banco.

The Cleveland Arts Prize was founded in 1960 by the Women’s City Club. The award is the oldest of its kind in the country. In addition to artists and writers, CAP recognizes individuals who expand the community’s engagement in the arts and make the region more hospitable to artistic expression.

Under former Executive Director, Marcie Bergman, the CAP increased both in number of recipients and monetary award. Awarded disciplines include Visual Arts, Literature, Music, Design, Theatre & Dance. Each category includes two Emerging Artist Awards, two Mid-Career Artists Awards and one Lifetime Achievement Award. The CAP also awards special prizes in honor of Robert P. Bergman and Martha Joseph to individuals and organizations that show exceptional commitment and vision for the arts.

The organization also awards four scholarships for local students. The John Paul Miller Scholarship is awarded annually to a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Literature Scholarship is given to a student at Cleveland State. The Klaus Roy Scholarship is presented to an orchestral student at the Cleveland School of the Arts, and the Kathryn Karipides Dance Scholarship is awarded to a graduate student in the dance program at Case Western Reserve University.

Nominations for this year’s Cleveland Art Prize open Thursday, Jan. 1 and must be made online through by Saturday, Feb. 28. Winners will be announced in early May, and honored at the annual awards ceremony on Thursday, Jun. 25 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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