By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The 16th Street Plaza District Association will honor Paula Stover, Managing Director of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, as the recipient of the 2016 Urban Pioneer Award. Their 12th annual celebration will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1 at the Oklahoma City University School of Law, 800 N Harvey Ave.
The Urban Pioneer Award, presented by Fowler Volkswagen of Norman and Oklahoma Employees Credit Union, is given each year to individuals in the Oklahoma City community who exemplify Oklahoma’s pioneering spirit with their leadership and commitment to urban revitalization.
“Paula has a rich history in the arts community and is able to utilize and manage precious resources to mold and create exceptional dynamic points for growth and change,” said Lou Kerr, Plaza District Board of Directors and 2006 Urban Pioneer Honoree.
Stover’s work with Lyric has spanned more than 40 years. Beginning as a Lyric volunteer, her passion for theatre created a distinguished career. It was under her leadership that Lyric made its home in the Plaza District in 2000 and she has played a key role in establishing the framework for unprecedented organizational growth.
“She embraced our crazy idea to buy a dilapidated theater in the middle of the Plaza District and provided the day-to-day leadership necessary to make it a success,” Kerr added. “We should applaud her, not only for her contributions to the Plaza District, but for her life’s work as an advocate for the arts.”
According to Kerr, Lyric has been a driving force behind the renaissance of the district with the re-adaptation of the Plaza Theatre into a premier performance venue that has brought thousands of new faces to the area, employed hundreds of artists and cultivated the next generation and theatre patrons and performers.
For many years Stover has been the driving force behind Lyric, which strives to produce Broadway-caliber productions for Oklahoma audiences.
Lyric’s Thelma Gaylord Academy is a professional training ground for students ages 5-18 offering classes in all aspects of musical theatre. Academy students have the opportunity to perform in two full-scale productions each year on the Plaza Theatre stage. Lyric provides over 250 jobs annually and employs nationally recognized directors, designers, actors, artists and artisans who join local professionals from across the state.
Previous Urban Pioneer honorees include Tom McDaniel (2005), followed by Lou Kerr (2006), Meg Salyer (2007), Mike Turpen and Mark Funke (2008), Ann Simank (2009), Steve Mason (2010), Bill and Bob Ross (2011), Wayne Coyne and Michelle Martin (2012), Chip Fudge (2013), Midtown Renaissance (2014), and Heather and Keith Paul (2015).
The event is the largest fundraiser each year for the Plaza District Association. Proceeds support ongoing neighborhood revitalization efforts.
There are five sponsorship levels for table seating, ranging from $250 (seating for two) to $5,000 (presenting sponsor, seating for eight).
A special Urban Pioneer Award Happy Hour will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31 at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, 1725 NW 16th St. in the Plaza District. The happy hour will feature behind the scenes stories from Stover in a casual environment.
The evening will feature local craft beer by Anthem Brewing Company and light bites.
Individual tickets for the happy hour are now available for sale for $25 and can be purchased online.
The Plaza District Association is a 501(c)3 that has worked since 1997 to develop the Plaza District as a vibrant commercial district where arts, local business and neighborhood community thrives.
Individual Awards Luncheon tickets are now available for sale for $45 and happy hour tickets cost $25. Both can be purchased at www.plazadistrict.org.
A bundle option is available including tickets to both the luncheon and happy hour for $65. Contact Cayla Lewis at [email protected] for additional information.
To learn more about Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma visit www.lyrictheatreokc.com.