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Academy Awards

The Tennessee Arts Academy honors individuals and organizations each year in a variety of categories during the Bravo Awards Banquet and Performance and during the TAA Finale luncheon. Current and previous award winners are listed below, as well as descriptions of each award category.

2024 Tennessee Arts Academy Award Recipients
Blanche Pope Tosh
Joe W. Giles Lifetime Achievement Award
Finale Luncheon
Curb Event Center
11:30 am
July 19, 2024

Blanche Pope Tosh started her life in the theatre in the third grade, when she won a city-wide talent contest reciting a humorous monologue. At age nine, she played a leading role on the stage of the Memphis Little Theatre (now called Theatre Memphis). From that point forward, she was hooked on the theatre. At Memphis Central High School, Tosh was a student of the legendary speech and drama teacher Rebekah Cohen, and studied privately with Blanche Pence and Donna Fisher Brame. She won a four-year Memphis Coterie Club arts scholarship to attend the University of Memphis, majoring in speech and drama and minoring in art, all the while hoping to become a teacher. In college, she participated in almost every theatre department stage production, won numerous best acting awards, and had lead roles in Memphis Shakespeare Festival performances. She was awarded an assistantship to Kent State University, but ended up receiving her master's degree at the University of Memphis.

Tosh began teaching at White Station High School in 1962, and during her thirty-year tenure taught speech, acting, visual art, interpretation, mass media, forensics, play production, directing, and acting for the camera. She directed over one hundred plays, established the White Station High School Speech Tournament, won countless speech and theatre awards for her school and students, and created the first high school black box theatre in Memphis, affectionately known as ABC—Aunt Blanche’s Corner Theatre.  

Tosh has performed in scores of plays in almost every Memphis theatre venue, received two Ostrander acting nominations, and notably, since her first production in 1947, is a seventy-seven year veteran of Theatre Memphis. She has also appeared in films, on radio, and in many commercials and voice-overs. She was a reader for the literature series Through the Golden Door, and portrayed “Mary Morgan” for the National Cotton Council. In her retirement, she was inducted into the Tennessee High School Speech and Drama League Hall of Fame and then began to focus even more on her love for storytelling. Beyond her longtime story readings at several area churches and hospitals, where she is referred to as the “story lady,” Tosh most recently created a podcast called Aunt Blanche’s Story Corner, recording well over a hundred episodes. Blanche Tosh has written and published two children's books and remains an active force in the Memphis theatre community.

Jerry Zaks
Distinguished Service Award
Bravo Awards Banquet and Performance
Curb Event Center
6:30 pm
July 17, 2024

Jerry Zaks began his career as an actor appearing in plays and musicals across the country. Most notably, he appeared in the original production of Greas eand the original cast of Tintypes. He recently directed his twenty-sixth Broadway show, The Music Man, starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. His production of Mrs. Doubtfire is currently running at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre and on tour in the United States.

Zaks has received four Tony Awards for directing and has been nominated eight times. He's also received four Drama Desks, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, and an Obie. His credits include Hello, Dolly! (starring Bette Midler), A Bronx Tale (both the play and the musical), Meteor Shower, Nantucket Sleigh Ride, Shows For Days, Sister Act, The Addams Family, Guys and Dolls, Six Degrees of Separation, Lend Me a Tenor, House of Blue Leaves, The Front Page, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Smokey Joe’s Café, Anything Goes, La Cage aux Folles, Little Shop of Horrors, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Foreigner, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, and the original production of Assassins.

Zaks began his career directing the extraordinary plays of Christopher Durang including Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Beyond Therapy, Baby with the Bathwater, and The Marriage of Bette and Boo. Hedirected the award-winning film Marvin’s Room, starring Meryl Streep andDiane Keaton, and Who Do You Love, which was featured in the Toronto Film Festival. Zaks is a founding member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City. In 1994, he received the SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers) George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

Zaks graduated from Dartmouth College in 1967, received an MFA from Smith College in1969, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Dartmouth in 1999. In honor of his lifetime achievement in the American theater, Jerry Zakswas inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2013.




Tennessee Arts Academy Awards
Arts Leadership Award of Excellence
is presented to an individual or group who has achieved a unique milestone in the arts that deserves recognition and honor.

Distinguished Service Award
is presented to an American whose work stands as a monument to the importance of the arts in the lives of all people.

Joe W. Giles Lifetime Achievement Award
is conferred upon a Tennessee teacher, whose life's work is widely acknowledged to have positively influenced the role of the arts in education, thereby benefiting the students of Tennessee's schools.

Lamar Alexander Founder's Award of Distinction
is presented to an individual whose meritorious accomplishments in the fields of education and the arts have profoundly impacted American culture and life.

Lorin Hollander Award
is given to a Tennessean whose influence has benefited arts education in general and/or the Tennessee Arts Academy in particular. This award is named in honor of internationally renowned concert pianist Lorin Hollander, a special friend of the Academy.

Partner in the Arts Award
honors an individual or business whose generosity and support have contributed in sustained and significant ways to the success of the Tennessee Arts Academy's mission.

Spirit of Tennessee Award
recognizes an individual or group whose work exemplifies the highest standards of artistic endeavor and brings positive recognition to the place of the arts in the lives of Tennesseans.
Previous Recipients
Joe W. Giles Lifetime Achievement Award
1995 Joseph Edward Hodges, Crossville
1996 Freda Kenner, Bells
1996 Sue Blass, Jackson
1997 Elizabeth Rike, Knoxville
1997 Celia Bachelder, Kingsport
1998 James Charles Mills, Johnson City
1998 Gene Crain, Memphis
1999 Patricia Brown, Knoxville
2000 Robert Pletcher, Nashville
2000 Kathy Hawk, Kingsport
2001 Tommie Pardue, Memphis
2001 Tully Daniel, Memphis (awarded posthumously)
2004 Marilyn duBrisk, Greeneville
2004 Bobby Jean Frost, Nashville
2005 Nancy Boone-Allsbrook, Murfreesboro
2005 Sally Crain Jager, Cookeville
2006 Michael Combs, Knoxville
2006 Jean R. Thomas, Chattanooga
2006 Mitchell Van Metre, Knoxville
2007 David Logan, Johnson City
2010 James R. Holcomb, Memphis
2011 Flowerree W. (Galetovic) McDonough, Knoxville
2011 Joe W. Giles, Nashville
2012 Richard Mitchell, Knoxville
2013 Carol Crittenden, Nashville
2014 Fred Patterson, Knoxville
2015 Gregg Coats, Memphis
2016 Ted Rose, Lebanon
2017 Margaret Campbelle-Holman, Nashville
2018 Linda Wilson Miller, Paris
2019 Donna Anderson, Knoxville
2022 Madeline Bridges, Nashville
2023 Melody Weintraub, Memphis
Lorin Hollander Award
1994 Cavit Cheshier, education executive
1995 Steven Cohen, state senator
1996 Nellie McNeil, teacher and advocate
1997 Tom L. Naylor, music educator and administrator
1998 T. Earl Hinton, music educator
1999 Jane Walters, educator and arts advocate
2000 Martha McCrory, music educator
2001 Solie Fott, music educator
2008 Jeanette Crosswhite, arts education administrator
2013 Pat and Thane Smith, arts patrons and philanthropists
2014 Cindy Freeman and Michael Meise, music educators and arts advocates
2022 Marion and Stephen Coleman, music educators and arts advocates
Spirit of Tennessee Award
2000 Wilma Dykeman, writer
2001 Jim Crabtree, theatre director and writer
2002 Alice Swanson, arts education administrator and advocate
2003 George Mabry, choral conductor
2006 Dolph Smith, visual artist
2009 George S. Clinton, Hollywood film composer
2009 Jackie Nichols, theatre administrator
2009 Michael Stern, symphony conductor
2010 Charles Brindley, visual artist
2015 Cherry Jones, Broadway actress
2022 Aaron Lazar, Broadway, film, and television actor
Arts Leadership Award of Excellence
2013 E. Frank Bluestein, Germantown
2015 Music Makes Us, Nashville
2016 Belmont University, Nashville
2023 Tiffany Kerns and CMA Foundation, Nashville
Lamar Alexander Founder's Award of Distinction
2013 Senator Lamar Alexander, United States Senator Douglas Henry,
2014 Tennessee State Senator
2017 Bill Haslam, Tennessee Governor
Distinguished Service Award
1994 Charles Strouse, Broadway composer
1995 Charles Fowler, arts educator, writer and advocate
1996 Jerome Lawrence, playwright
1997 Lorin Hollander, concert pianist and philosopher
2000 Scott Ellis, Broadway theatre director
2000 Mary Costa, opera singer
2001 Sheldon Harnick, Broadway lyricist
2001 Tina Packer, Shakespeare actor and director
2003 Bob McGrath, singer and host of Sesame Street
2005 John Simon, author and arts critic
2005 Dean Pitchford, songwriter, lyricist, screenwriter, and director
2006 Andre Thomas, choral conductor
2007 Joe DiPietro, Broadway playwright and lyricist
2008 Henry Krieger, Broadway composer
2011 Marvin Hamlisch, composer and pianist
2012 Richard Sherman, composer and lyricist
2013 Marc Cherry, Hollywood writer and producer
2014 Rupert Holmes, playwright, composer, and lyricist
2015 Richard Maltby, Jr., director, lyricist, producer, writer
2016 Audrey Flack, painter and sculptor
2016 Andrew Lippa, composer, lyricist, performer, and writer
2016 Doc Severinsen, musician and bandleader
2017 Christopher Durang, Broadway playwright
2018 Tony Walton, Broadway set and costume designer
2019 Jeff Calhoun, Broadway choreographer, dancer, and director
2022 Harolyn Blackwell, opera singer and Broadway performer
2023 David Yazbek, composer, lyricist, performer, and writer
Partner in the Arts Award
2008 Steve Spiegel, president of Theatrical Rights Worldwide

Please check back regularly for updates and information about the 2024 Tennessee Arts Academy.