Skip to Content
  • Contact Us
  • Text Size - Metro Government of Allentown (Print logo)

News Archive

Arts Ovation Winners Announced

Arts Ovation Winners Announced

The Allentown Arts Commission and the City of Allentown will celebrate the extraordinary impact of the arts on Allentown and the broader Lehigh Valley community when it presents the 27th Annual Allentown Arts Ovation Awards in a revitalized and re-imagined ceremony, Thursday, May 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. After moving to the Palace Center on the east side of Allentown for the last several years, the ceremony returns to Allentown’s City Center to the Renaissance Hotel at PPL Center – which in itself has become an epicenter for the revitalized downtown.

“Along with the tremendous redevelopment efforts of both private and public entities, the Allentown Arts Commission strongly believes that the arts – symbolically embodied here by this year’s honorees -- have not only helped lift Allentown during difficult times, but also helped assisted in the development of its current renaissance," says Sharon Glassman, Chair of the Allentown Arts Commission. “We are thrilled to return downtown and focus our attention not only on this glistening new city, but on the extraordinary artists and philanthropists that make Allentown a culturally significant community.”

This year’s event not only has a new location, but a new time and format. Unlike the previous Arts Ovation Events, which was a luncheon, the 2015 Arts Ovation Awards will be handed out at a celebratory cocktail party in the Renaissance Hotel at the new PPL Center on 7th Street. Guests will be treated to savory food, sparkling beverages, and first-class entertainment in a contemporary and elegant environment.

“While we are excited by the change in format and venue, we are equally enthralled by the quality of this year’s recipients and are eager to applaud their unique contributions to the vitality of our Allentown Arts scene,” says Glassman.

This year the Allentown Arts Commission will honor 7 recipients in 6 categories and will bestow scholarships in art, music and theatre to students from Allentown’s high schools.
The recipients of this year’s awards are:

Outstanding Philanthropist Award: National Penn Bank and its President and CEO, Scott Fainor
Under the leadership of CEO Scott Fainor, National Penn Bank has distinguished itself as one of the premier supporters of the arts in Allentown. Fainor has served as a Trustee of the Keystone Savings Foundation, which has long shown support for Lehigh Valley non-profit organizations, since its inception in 2003. National Penn Bank also is a named sponsor for a myriad of artistic venues, including Allentown Art Museum, The Baum School, Civic Theatre of Allentown, Miller Symphony Hall, and many others and has shown commitment to its communities through volunteerism. National Penn employees logged nearly 16,000 volunteer hours in 2014.

Outstanding Achievement in Performing Arts: Karen Dearborn
Karen Dearborn is the founder and Director of Dance for Muhlenberg College. She has choreographed more than 80 works in concert dance, theatre, and musical theatre, including National Tours of the Tony Award-winning National Theatre of the Deaf and Equity theatre companies. As a dancer, she performed professionally for 12 years in concert dance and musical theatre productions. In addition to her impressive career as a dancer/choreographer and recognition as an exceptional educator, Dearborn has distinguished herself as an extraordinary choreographer at Muhlenberg College, launching a number of dance careers and bringing great pleasure to Muhlenberg Summer Theatre audiences.

Outstanding Service Award: Jane Brown-Heft
With over 100 design awards, Jane Brown-Heft is Principal & Creative Director of enze, a strategically-focused branding and design communications discipline with a conscious creative drive. Since 2011, Heft’s primary focus has been as Creative and Design Director for City Center Lehigh Valley, where she has shown a great passion for the revitalization of Allentown. Along with City Center, Heft has designed the Identity for the new PPL Center, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and is currently working on the newest Iron Pigs Charity. She is the recipient of the gold award from the American Advertising Federation for the United Way’s Annual Giving Campaign.

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Arts: Gregory Coates
Gregory Coates’ artwork can be found in prestigious collections such as The Smithsonian Institute of American Art, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and The Studio Museum in Harlem and in many corporate collections like Microsoft, Phillip Morris, and Coca Cola. Currently, an installation of his work is included in the Allentown Art Museum’s “Past Present Conversations Across Time” exhibition. In 2011 he co-founded FUSE art infrastructure, where he acts as a constant advocate for young artists. Along with his wife. Kiki Nienaber, he has been a catalyst for dialogue in Contemporary Art in Allentown with projects such as the NOW and Lollipop exhibitions at the Cigar Factory in Allentown.

Outstanding Teacher of the Arts: Kathy Alvaro
Kathy Alvaro began her career in the arts at Kutztown University where she received a Bachelor in Arts Education. Her first experience with the Allentown School District was student teaching at Union Terrace Elementary. In her 35 year tenure as an art teacher Alvaro taught all grades, kindergarten through 12th grade. Her biggest impact was made at William Allen High School where she has encouraged and supported students to grow and be academically challenged. Alvaro helped develop the curriculum for the Allen Arts Academy and was instrumental in maintaining its success by adapting it to the student body. After retiring in 2011, Alvaro continued to be involved in the Allentown Academy of the Arts Alliance, where she currently serves as President. Through the Alliance she has worked to promote opportunities in the arts for students at William Allen as well as fundraising for field trips and guest residencies.

Emerging Artist Award: Bryan Tuk
Bryan Tuk is the Founder and CEO of Performing Arts Live!, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating and supporting live musical performances. Performing Arts Live! is the presenter of the Allentown JazzFest, a six day live music festival which debuted in April 2015. Based in Allentown, Tuk’s solo law practice focuses on business law, non-profits and arts organizations. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Allentown Symphony Association and a voting member of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the GRAMMYs) Tuk was selected by his peers for inclusion in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers magazine as a Rising Star in 2010 and 2012. He was also named a Select Lawyer in Business/Commercial Law by Lehigh Valley Style magazine 2014.

Emerging Artist Award: Morgan Reilly
Morgan Reilly has performed locally and regionally at venues as varied as Muhlenberg College, Civic Theatre of Allentown, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Cedar Crest College, Miller Symphony Hall, New York University, Bucks County Playhouse, The 37th Street Theatre (NYC), and Parkland High School. She was most recently seen as Inga in Young Frankenstein at Civic, where she has also appeared in “Urinetown”, “Spring Awakening”, and “Gypsy”. A record setting eight-time Freddy Award nominee, she received the award for Outstanding Featured Performance by an Actress in 2009 and the Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. This past year she received the ABE Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress (Musical, Community Theatre) for her performance in “Urinetown.” An avid singer/songwriter, she has an active following on YouTube and has performed as a solo artist at the State Theatre of Easton, Muhlenberg College, New York University, Don’t Tell Mama’s (NYC). She served as a guest vocalist for The Piano Men at Miller Symphony Hall.

The entire community is invited to celebrate these honorees at the Arts Ovation Awards Reception, Thursday, May 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Renaissance Hotel, Seventh and Hamilton streets in Allentown. Tickets to the event are $60 per person and are available on Civic Theatre’s website at; at the 19th StreetTheatre Box Office or by sending a check directly to Arts Ovation (attention David Mickenberg) via the Allentown Art Museum, 31 N 5th St, Allentown, PA 18101 . Questions and inquires can be directed to the Arts Commission Chair, Sharon Glassman at

The Commission also is seekings sponsorships for the event ranging from $600-$2500. For information on how to support the Arts Ovations Awards, please contact Jane Heft at


Posted in: Homepage | View Count: (5311)