Kathy Mouacheupao, executive director, Center for Hmong Arts and Talent is a recipient of the 2010 Sally Ordway Irvine Award. (Contributed photo)
St. Paul, Minn. (March 21, 2011) – The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on Monday announced that Kathy Mouacheupao of the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent is among the recipients of the 2010 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards. Mouacheupao received the award in the Initiative category. This nineteenth annual Sally Awards honor extraordinary achievements for Initiative, along with Arts Access, Commitment, Education, and Vision.
The remaining four 2010 Sally Award winners are: Commitment – Willie Murphy; Education – Anton Treuer; Vision – Michelle Hensley and Ten Thousand Things Theater; and Arts Access – Amy Stoller Stearns and the Historic Holmes Theatre/DLCCC.
The Arts Access award was presented by State Senator Richard Cohen, a longtime advocate for the arts in Minnesota.
In addition to the traditional awards for Vision, Commitment, Initiative and Education, a new award was given this year to acknowledge extraordinary efforts to expand access to the arts across Minnesota. This award was inspired by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment, one of the most significant acts of public support for the arts in Minnesota’s history.
“Every year, our selection committee has the challenging but rewarding task of identifying a handful of award recipients from among dozens of worthy nominations,” said Patricia A. Mitchell, Ordway president and ceo. “The level of creativity throughout Minnesota is outstanding, and the Ordway is honored to acknowledge this artistry each year through the Sally Awards.”
As director of CHAT, Mouacheupao has helped shape it into a vibrant youth organization and it has since become the leading Hmong American arts organization in the country.
CHAT grew out of Pom Siab Hmoob Theater, established in 1993 to put Hmong stories in front of audiences. In 1998, organizers decided to expand their focus beyond theater in order to serve more Hmong artists, and changed the name to CHAT.
Today, CHAT provides free art classes for youth, creates opportunities for leadership and professional development for artists, and offers memorable experiences for the community. Its role has evolved into a social justice organization that recognizes the power of the arts to affect change.
CHAT envisions a vibrant community where Hmong American artists are inspired to share their perspectives and empowered to challenge life’s boundaries
The annual Hmong Arts and Music Festival, sponsored by CHAT, is a highlight of the summer at Western Sculpture Park in St. Paul. Over the years it has become a community celebration of Hmong culture, arts and expression.
In 2007, CHAT hosted the first annual Fresh Traditions Fashion Show, an innovative exhibit of functional art designed by Hmong artists blending contemporary designs with traditional Hmong fabrics. CHAT received the first Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Arts Achievement Award in 2009 in recognition of its work to incorporate the arts into the daily lives of communities.
Stoller Stearns and Historic Holmes Theatre are recognized as a hub of performing arts activity in northwestern Minnesota, hosting more than 300 shows and events in a little less than a decade. The entertainment Canadian Brass to Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Murphy is a soul, R&B, blues and rock legend, and a charter member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. He has performed with everyone from Jefferson Airplane and Joan Baez to Muddy Waters and Carl Perkins.
Dr. Treuer is professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University. He has a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He is editor of the only academic journal of the Ojibwe language and author of eight books.
He 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.
Hensley and Ten Thousand Things Theater are renowned across the country for bringing quality theater into prisons, homeless shelters and housing projects, while engaging veteran theater goers as well. Hensley has directed more than 40 productions including “The Good Person of Szechwan.”
The first Sally Award was presented in 1986 to Sally Ordway Irvine, whose initiative, vision and commitment provided the inspiration for the creation of Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. The Ordway inaugurated the annual Sally Awards program in 1992; it continues today with the generous support of the Minnesota State Arts Board, Minnesota Public Radio and the Saint Paul Hotel. Each of the award recipients receives a crystal award and a cash award of $2,500. www.ordway.org