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The 2016 Cherry Adler Award goes to Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts

The 2016 Cherry Adler Award goes to Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts


For more than 40 years, CCTA has inspired children through creativity and inspiration

February 22, 2016Press Release

February 22, 2016 (BALTIMORE) – The Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency of the Maryland Department of Commerce, today, awarded its esteemed Cherry Adler Award to Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA), a Howard County-based theater company founded by Toby B. Orenstein 44 years ago. CCTA is dedicated to educating children from preschool to teen through the arts by creating theatrical experiences that inspire thought, action, creativity, and change.

Following a theatrical performance of “Most Valuable Player,” the story of Jackie Robinson, for 337 students and teachers from Armistead Gardens and John Ruhrah Elementary Schools at the Baltimore Best Western Plus Hotel & Conference Center, MSAC presented its triennial Cherry Adler Award, recognizing excellence in Maryland children’s theater.

The award is named after the late Charlotte “Cherry” Adler, a former MSAC chair who also founded and directed the Library Theatre in Montgomery County.  A $3,000 prize funded by the Adler family accompanied the honor.

“The arts in Maryland are powerful and remain an important part of the lives of Marylanders. For 40 years, the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts has brought quality arts education programs to our youth,” said Executive Director Theresa Colvin, Maryland State Arts Council.  “Toby Orenstein has dedicated her life to bringing theatrical arts to young people. We are happy to present the Cherry Adler Award to her and CCTA for its creative approach to exposing children to the arts. ”

Toby B. Orenstein and Managing Director Alexandra Franco accepted the award on behalf of CCTA, with Avi Adler, Cherry Adler’s son, present to represent the family.

“It’s my life’s work,” said Orenstein after receiving a Governor’s citation. “I don’t do this for the money. I am so happy Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts is being recognized. The acknowledgment is wonderful.”

“It means the world to my family to see the arts live on in Maryland,” said Avi Adler. “I have childhood memories of attending these types of programs. The award keeps her memory in everyone’s hearts. Mom received a lifetime achievement award, and that carried her through the final years of her life.”

While originally conceived as an “art school” where children learn through the performance process, CCTA has grown in several areas. Today CCTA employs more than 80 teachers, directors, writers, actors, musicians, technicians, and consultants under the guidance of two full-time and four part-time staff members.

CCTA’s programs encompass three areas: The Conservatory offers performing arts-based programs designed to nurture and develop the whole child. Theatrical Arts Productions offer professional performances related to school curriculum and reflect current social issues and concerns.  Outreach Programs make theater arts available and accessible to the neediest students in the region.

Since MSAC’s founding in 1967, the Council’s goal has been to provide all citizens access to quality arts experiences and to make Maryland a place where artists and creative enterprises can flourish. The arts agency uses grant dollars to support more than 260 arts organizations across the state, as well as individual artists, and programs such as Arts in Education, Poetry Out Loud, Public Art, Maryland Presenting and Touring, Arts & Entertainment Districts, and Folk and Traditions.

PHOTO: Left to Right: Theresa Colvin, Executive Director Maryland State Arts Council, Toby Orenstein, founder Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, Avi Adler and Alexandra Franco, director of CCTA. MSAC presented its triennial Cherry Adler Award, recognizing excellence in Maryland children's theater.

Media Contact: 

Jill Kubatko

Communications Manager