Best Of 2005

Best Pipeline to the Arts: NEohioPAL listserv

If Fred Sternfeld were known only for the shows he directs, his impact here would still be considerable. In recent years, he has expertly helmed classics (Of Mice and Men, Fiddler on the Roof), obscure gems (Underneath the Lintel), and musicals (Ragtime, The Sound of Music) on virtually every stage in town. But since 1998, when he founded the Northeast Ohio Performing Arts List - that's NEohioPAL, for short - Sternfeld has been bringing together the region's arts intelligentsia as only chardonnay and cheese previously could. His daily e-mail list is where casting directors find actors and actors find paychecks, where young performers gain counsel from old pros and cybercritics levy judgment on local shows. It's the one place where fresh verve and vitriol are infused into discussions of pay-vs.-no-pay acting and funding for the arts, and where cheap tickets and freebies are offered routinely. And just about every week, somebody is giving away a piano. In a town whose vibrant cultural life often goes unrecognized, Fred Sternfeld's NEohioPAL works 24-7 to get the word out.