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Orange schools chief Blocker honored at United Arts awards

 | Published on 10/4/2011

Orange schools chief Blocker honored at United Arts awards

By Matthew J. Palm, Staff Writer

9:47 PM EDT, October 3, 2011

Ronald Blocker, superintendent of Orange County schools, was awarded the John M. Tiedtke Lifetime Achievement Award at Monday night's Arts+ Awards, given by United Arts of Central Florida.

The awards, given to individuals and organizations, emphasize connections between arts groups and the community.

Outgoing United Arts President Margot Knight called Blocker "a quiet force" in promoting the arts, noting that each year thousands of schoolchildren attend orchestra concerts, the ballet and other cultural institutions thanks to his support.

Blocker said the award was an "unparalleled honor," and that it was critical that as many children as possible had a chance to experience the arts.

Henry Maldonado, president of the Enzian Theater in Maitland, received the volunteer individual of the year award.

Andrew Lane, music director of the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, was honored as arts educator of the year. The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra program served 264 students from nine counties this year through its three orchestras, a training orchestra and other ensembles.

The Arts+ Awards were established 10 years ago by United Arts, a collaboration of arts groups, local governments and businesses that promotes arts and cultural organizations. The public makes the nominations — United Arts received more than 100 this year — and then a panel of local business leaders selects the winners.

Other honorees for 2011:

Orlando Repertory Theatre, for excellence in arts education.

Festival Bay Mall, as outstanding business partner for its support of the arts.

•MicheLee Puppets, which provides educational children's shows, and Harbor House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, for collaboration.

Messiah Choral Society, for volunteer organization of the year.

Bay Street Players and Garden Theatre, which both won for community-engagement programs.