Alan W. Cooper served as Executive Director of MAAF for 23 years, from 1994 through April 2017.  Under Cooper’s Leadership, MAAF established a reputation for excellence, integrity, and innovative programs and services that extends beyond the mid-Atlantic region to national and international communities.  Cooper fostered a true partnership among the region’s State Arts Agencies and the nation’s Regional Arts Organizations.  His belief in the importance of public-private partnerships and international cultural exchange was reflected in the programs he fostered and promoted, including USArtists International, the French-American Jazz Exchange, Southern Exposure: Performing Arts of Latin America, and the Living Legacy Jazz Award.  Cooper’s commitment to diverse artistic expression and belief in the arts as an agent of change made him a champion of artists, arts organizations, and audiences throughout his career.  His impact will be felt for many years to come.

Established in 2017, the Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award honors the legacy of an arts leader who has made outstanding contributions to the arts through extraordinary leadership.  The Award seeks to recognize individuals who continue Cooper’s legacy of leadership in the arts sector.

Award Guidelines


MAAF believes that leadership takes many forms and is practiced at all levels; it is the ability to conceive, articulate, and execute a direction and purpose while fostering others’ talents and the exchange of ideas.

The Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award honors an active arts leader who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the arts sector within the mid-Atlantic region.  Exceptional candidates will have demonstrated impactful leadership through the development of innovative models while exemplifying a consistent dedication to the value of diverse artistic expression.  Though not required for eligibility, MAAF is particularly interested in recognizing an arts leader who has made significant advances in the areas of public-private partnerships and international cultural exchange.

MAAF recognizes that diversity is a strength and encourages nominations for all diverse leaders as defined by race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, age, geographic location, expertise, and professional level.


  • Eligible nominees will have demonstrated impactful leadership in the arts in one or more of MAAF’s nine partner jurisdictions of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia; though impact may extend from the mid-Atlantic region to national or international communities.
  • Nominations are encouraged for active arts leaders from all career stages (early-, mid-, and late-career).
  • Nominations are encouraged for arts leaders from all areas in the arts industry.
  • Eligible nominees must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Though MAAF recognizes the value of collaborative leadership/co-leadership, only nominations for individuals are eligible for the award.
  • The awardee must be available to attend the recognition event in May 2019.
  • All nomination materials must be received no later than November 30, 2018.


  • Current MAAF board members and staff members, and their families, are not eligible for the award and are not permitted to submit nomination materials.
  • Elected officials are not eligible for the award.
  • Previous awardees are not eligible for nomination.
  • Self-nominations are not eligible.
  • Nominations received after the nomination deadline will be deemed ineligible.


The recipient of the 2019 Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award will be recognized at the May 2019 MAAF board of directors meeting.  In addition to the acknowledgement event, the awardee will receive a $2,500 honorarium.


All nomination materials must be received no later than November 30, 2018.  Nomination materials must include:

  • General Information Form
  • Nomination Statement
  • Nominee’s Current Résumé
  • One-to-three Letter(s) of Support

Optional materials include:

  • Supplemental Material
  • Demographic Data Survey

For additional nomination information and to access the program guidelines, please click on one of the links below:

Guidelines as a PDF (link opens in a new tab)
Guidelines as a Word document (link opens in a new tab)

Deadline for 2019 Award nomination:  November 30, 2018.

Questions? Please contact Adam Plantz at

Past Awardees

Michael L. Royce – 2018 Award Recipient

Head shot of Michael Royce.Mr. Royce has served as the Executive Director of The New York Foundation for the Arts for the past 12 years. His leadership has led to an exponential growth of support programs for artists in New York, nationally, and internationally. Mr. Royce’s work in the creation of programs serving artists in all stages of their careers and his understanding of the importance of partnerships has led to robust training opportunities. His efforts in recognizing immigrant artist populations, the importance of international exchange, and artist mentorship have made him an exemplary choice for the inaugural Award round. On learning of his selection, Mr. Royce said “Knowing of Alan Cooper’s leadership, and of the high quality work that Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation has done for so many years for so many individuals and organizations, it is an honor to receive this recognition.”

Mr. Royce was selected by a panel of arts professionals based on the published Award criteria.

Of Mr. Royce’s selection, ACLA Board Committee Chair Hal Real said “The Alan Cooper Leadership Award Committee congratulates Michael Royce as the first recipient of this prestigious new award from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.  Michael’s innovative leadership and outstanding track record of accomplishments during his tenure at The New York Foundation for the Arts so perfectly exemplifies the spirit and the substantive leadership of Alan Cooper, the arts leader in whose honor this award is named.”

“Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation is very proud to honor Michael Royce.  Because of his deep commitment to the development and continued support of individual artists throughout the various stages of their careers, Michael has helped to create a thriving cultural community at the regional, national and global level with the artist clearly placed at the center,” added MAAF’s Executive Director, Theresa Colvin.