Cunetto honored with 2015 Cochran theatre award

Stephen H. Cunetto

A longtime library administrator at Mississippi State is being honored for his dedication and service to arts education in the Magnolia State.

Stephen H. Cunetto, systems administrator for the university's libraries, recently received the 2015 Thad Cochran Distinguished Arts Educator Award in Theatre.

The Laurel-based Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education presents the annual recognition. Founded in 1974, the non-profit organization works to ensure that arts are a part of the education of every child in the state. Its members represent K-12 schools, higher education, community, professional and cultural organizations and state agencies, among others.

Cunetto's honor was among nearly a dozen presented during the Mississippi Arts Commission's Whole Schools Institute awards ceremony in Meridian.

He is the son of Starkville arts patron Ida Cunetto and the late Dominic J. Cunetto Sr., founder and first director of MSU's theatre program. In addition to a 1990 MSU communication degree, he holds a 2006 master's degree in library and information science from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Since 2003, Cunetto has served as executive director of the Starkville-based Mississippi Theatre Association. Under his leadership, the MTA has organized workshops and festivals for teachers, students and community members, as well as competitions for adult and student playwriting, high school theatre, community theatre and individual acting, among other accomplishments.

Colleagues have praised his efforts over the years for empowering students to pursue careers as performers, technicians, writers, directors and educators.

In addition to the MTA, Cunetto has served at the helm of numerous other organizations, including the Mississippi Library Association, Starkville Area Arts Council and Starkville Community Theatre. In 1999, he was recognized with the Mississippi Library Association's Peggy May Award.

On the MSU campus, he is active on several major committees, including Institutional Effectiveness, Galleries and Museums, Performing Arts and Instructional Technology Advisory.

By recognizing and celebrating excellence in arts education throughout the state, the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education seeks to raise the general public's awareness of arts education issues and provide opportunities for collaboration and partnerships among arts organizations. Its Cochran Award is named for Mississippi's senior U.S. senator, a well-known supporter of arts education and related areas. For more, see

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Sasha Steinberg | Public Affairs

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