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WBOI's Julia Meek to receive local arts and culture lifetime achievement award

Meek and FWYT people
Julia Meek
Gregory Stieber and Fort Wayne YouthTheatre's Todd Espiland flank Julia Meek prior to an interview for her Arts and Culture segment earlier this year.

Fort Wayne Youtheater has awarded Julia Meek with the Harvey Cocks Lifetime Achievement award, in acknowledgment of her contribution to the local arts scene.

The Harvey Cocks Lifetime Achievement award has only ever been given to one other recipient – Harvey Cocks himself. The honor was first given in 2019 to Cocks, the former executive director of Youtheater who passed away last year.

Todd Espeland is the executive artistic director for the organization. He says when he joined the organization, the staff decided to begin giving awards to honor volunteers. That’s when they decided to honor Cocks as well.

“Harvey had been with the organization for 44 years. He was just so beloved, he did so much for the community and is responsible for igniting a passion for theater in so many people.”

The award isn’t given out every year, but Espeland says the staff began talking about Julia Meek’s work with the theater and in the arts scene in Fort Wayne and wanted to acknowledge that work.

Meek is the arts and culture reporter at WBOI. She’s also the longtime volunteer host of several music shows, including the nationally-syndicated Folktales.

It’s a job she’s been doing for so long even she’s not sure of what the exact number of years is.

In that time, Meek has interviewed local authors, civil rights activists and, yes, she’s done her fair share of interviews with Fort Wayne Youtheater about their upcoming shows.

What is it about Youtheater that keeps Meek so inspired?

“They’re creativity, man. They’re art centricity. That’s it, that’s it a hundred percent.”

Meek says she was surprised and grateful for the honor, but thought there were others it would be more suited for.

Espeland disagreed.

“A community isn’t made great by its organizations, it’s made great by the people who patronize and support those organizations. And Julia doesn’t just patronize and support, Julia is a champion,” he said.

That championing comes from an inspiration by and a love for the scene Meek reports on and features on her shows.

“We have incredible talented fine arts avenues here in Fort Wayne and our drama’s one of them. And our youth theater is fantastic and I’m proud to be around that whole scene.”

Fort Wayne Youtheater will present Meek the award at opening night of Jeremy Thatcher: Dragon Catcher on Friday.

Ella Abbott is a multimedia reporter for 89.1 WBOI. She is a strong believer in the ways audio storytelling can engage an audience and create a sensory experience.