At its regular meeting on November 21, 2019 the Arts Commission recommended that the City Council ratify its selection of Gai Jones for the 2019 Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award. The City Council ratified this selection after a slight delay due to coronavirus, in June of 2020. The Award was founded by the Arts Advisory Committee (now the Arts Commission) in 1987 as an important tribute from the City Council and citizens to Ojai artists who have enhanced our understanding and appreciation for the arts. The criteria for the award include (in descending order of importance): proven continuous artistic excellence, demonstrated community involvement within the Ojai Valley, established recognition within their field, and residency within close proximity of the Ojai Valley. A recipient may be of any age.
Ms. Jones, Founder of CA Youth in Theatre, entered educational theatre by way of a small liberal arts college for women in Oklahoma which offered a specialized degree, BA in Speech and Drama (equivalent of a BFA). She completed an MA in Theatre as the first woman to receive the degree at CA State University, Fullerton in 1968. She taught Theatre at El Dorado High School, Placentia, CA, for thirty-four years. Upon her retirement, the Black Box Theater was named The Gai Jones Theater.
Ms. Jones is an Ojai resident. Her local activities and achievements include:
- Interim Director of Ojai Performing Arts Academy;
- Performer for Theater 150, professional Ojai Theater for Off the Page staged readings;
- Director for Ojai Art Center Theater;
- Secretary of Ojai Art Center Theater Branch;
- Volunteer at the Ojai Library as a Story Reader;
- Actor in Ojai Rising’s production of Our Town;
- Education Director of Ojai Rising;
Gai Jones currently serves as President of Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), which sets policy for 2.4 million middle and high school honor Theatre students and their teachers and is National Board Member of Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), CETA (CA Educational Theatre Associate) Executive Board, DTASC (Drama Teachers Association of So CA.) Advocacy Director, and a SAG-AFTRA Member presenting national workshops for Theatre conferences.