Bill Blair

2011 Honoree - Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award


Bill Blair has dedicated his life to supporting the arts. His work has impacted all facets of the arts in Ohio from the world’s greatest orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, to the smallest of nonprofit arts organizations that support individual artists and arts education. As a musician himself, playing the piano at every chance, he knows the power of the arts. He knew early in his career that his mark on life would not come from his life as a pianist but from a life that allows others to perform, participate, and prosper.

Mr. Blair has built an empire of networks overtime and dedicates his resolve to the arts. In Ohio, Mr. Blair is the longest tenured lobbyist at the Ohio Statehouse. He has also been there longer than any current elected official or staff member. This designation of ‘most senior’ provides many advantages—including institutional history and information about the skeletal remains hiding about the place.

He served as co-founder of Ohio Citizens for the Arts and worked across the nation to help establish additional arts advocacy citizens groups by providing technical assistance and professional development in those early years. Mr. Blair’s service to the arts is second to none. At a meeting in Columbus of the SAAN (State Arts Action Network of Americans for the Arts) Sherron Long from Florida suggested that Bill be nominated for this award. She sang his praises and complimented his longtime service and support of citizen advocacy efforts to support the arts. Bill has also been recognized in Ohio as a Governor’s Award for the Arts winner, and has received commendations by numerous organizations.

For these reasons, Mr. Blair was selected as the 2011 winner of the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award.