For their artistic achievements, particularly in the area of social justice, conductor James Conlon and writer Kathy Wilson have been awarded the 2015 Sachs Fund Prize.

First awarded in 1929, the Rosa F. and Samuel B. Sachs Fund Prize was provided for in the will of the late Samuel B. Sachs to honor outstanding accomplishments in the arts — inclusive of visual arts, music, theatre, dance, literature, sculpture and architecture. Over the years, the Sachs Fund Prize has recognized individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Cincinnati, bringing distinction to themselves and the region through their work. Previous recipients include Zaha Hadid, Leah Stewart, Phyllis Weston, Stephen Sondheim and Shepard Fairey.

The Sachs Fund Prize Committee — led by ArtsWave Life Trustee Richard Rosenthal — decided early on not to make this a “competitive” process with a call for nominations and/or applications. Rather, using the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grants” as a model, ArtsWave assembles a group of this region’s most knowledgeable leaders in the areas of theater, music, dance, architecture, visual arts, photography and literature to select the individual — or individuals, as is the case this year — who, in their combined estimation, best meets the criteria for this award.

ArtsWave will celebrate the extraordinary work of Kathy Wilson and James Conlon on May 20. Each also will receive $10,000.

About the winners

Kathy Wilson 3
Kathy Y. Wilson is a multi-hyphenated nerd: a writer-teacher-closet-poet-community-worker-playwright and sometimes, for the right audience, she will bust a rhyme. Known in Cincinnati as the author of the incendiary column “Your Negro Tour Guide,” and the book of the same title, listeners nationwide know her for her National Public Radio commentaries on “All Things Considered.” Still more audiences know Wilson for the eponymous stage play adapted from her book. Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Wilson has won accolades for commentary from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, The Cleveland Press Club, the Associated Press Society of Ohio, was twice a Fellow at the Knight Center for Professional Journalists and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for her profile of Bill Cunningham. In September 2014, the Library Foundation of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County named her its first-ever Writer-In-Residence.

James Conlon Photo
James Conlon, one of today’s most versatile and respected conductors, has cultivated a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire. Since his 1974 debut with the New York Philharmonic, he has conducted virtually every major American and European symphony orchestra. Through worldwide touring, an extensive discography and videography, numerous essays and commentaries, frequent television appearances and guest speaking engagements, Mr. Conlon is one of classical music’s most recognized interpreters.

Mr. Conlon is Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera and the Cincinnati May Festival, America’s oldest choral festival. This season he brings to a close a 37-year tenure of the May Festival, one of the longest tenures of any American classical music institutions, and becomes Conductor Laureate.