Sally Awards: And the winners are…

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Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, takes home this year’s Sally Award for Education.

Each year the Ordway Center for Performing Arts presents the Sally Awards to recognize individuals and institutions that have made outstanding contributions to the the state’s culture and quality of life. This year the Ordway presented a newly expanded list of Sally Awards. In addition to the traditional categories of “Vision,” “Education,” “Initiative” and “Commitment,” this year the Ordway added a fifth category: “Access.”

So without further ado, here are the winners for the 2010 Sally Awards:

Education: Anton Treuer

Sometimes educating a future generation means also safeguarding the past. AntonTreuer is the editor of the only academic journal of the Ojibwe language.

Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, Treuer is the author of eight books including “The Assassination of Hole in the Day” and “Ojibwe in Minnesota,” recently named “Minnesota’s Best Read for 2010″ by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. According to the Ordway’s announcement, “Dr. Treuer has championed Minnesota’s traditional indigenous art forms and has worked tirelessly to expand our definition of the arts to include oral narrative and story performance, especially as they intersect with the Ojibwe language.”

Vision: Michelle Hensley and Ten Thousand Things Theater

Michelle-Hensley.jpgMichelle Hensley, Artistic Director of Ten Thousand Things theater company, was awarded the 2010 Sally Award for Vision.As the founder and artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theater, Hensley has filled a void by providing compelling theater to people who would normally not have access. That means she takes her veteran performers to prisons, homeless shelters and housing projects. Not satisfied with just performing to segregated groups, Hensley encourages audiences who would normally never step foot into a homeless shelter to make the journey with her, and rewards them with free performances.

Initiative Award: Kathy Mouacheupao and the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT)

KathyMouacheupao.jpg Over the years the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent has grown from a creative hub to social justice organization, using the arts to create change. Kathy Mouacheupao is the executive director for CHAT, which is now widely recognized as the leading Hmong American arts organization in the country. According to the Ordway “the annual Hmong Arts and Music Festival, sponsored by CHAT, has become a community celebration of Hmong culture, arts and expression.” In addition, CHAT now hosts the “Fresh Traditions Fashion Show,” featuring functional art designed by Hmong artists and blending contemporary designs with traditional Hmong fabrics.

Arts Access: Amy Stoller Stearns and the Historic Holmes Theatre/DLCCC

AmyStollerStearns.jpgThe first recipient of Ordway’s “Access” award, Amy Stoller Stearns moved from Minneapolis to Detroit Lakes, Minn. in 2002. She got a job working as the box office manager of the newly opened Detroit Lakes Community Cultural Center, housed in the Historic Holmes Theatre. Today she’s the executive director, and the DLCCC offers everything from local and regional acts to national and international performers. In order to make its programming as accessible as possible, the center offers artist visits to schools, discounted or free tickets to school groups, and a diverse array of performances.

As the Ordway announcement states, “when it opened nine years ago, no one quite knew what the Holmes Theatre would become, but today it’s hard for most to imagine life in Detroit Lakes without it.”

Commitment: Willie Murphy

WillieMurphy.jpg Minneapolis native Willie Murphy is a charter member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, and has performed with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Muddy Waters and Carl Perkins. He joined with folk musician “Spider” John Koerner to produce “Running, Jumping, Standing Still” in 1969. He formed “Willie and the Bees,” whose music came to define R&B and Soul music in the 1970s and early ’80s. In 1985 he launched his own record label, Atomic Theory. Not one to fade out in his later years, Murphy just released his latest album, “A Shot of Love in a Time of Need,” in February. Oh and July 2 is “Willie Murphy Day” in St. Paul.

Congratulations to the winners!

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