The winners of the 2019 Joyce Awards have been announced! This year, they award a record six collaborations between talented, committed, and socially-engaged artists and equally dedicated cultural organizations – in Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities. I am delighted to report that I and the Lao Assistance Center are among the winners this year.
Each partnership will receive $50,000 to produce and present a commissioned new work and program of intensive community engagement activities. This year’s Joyce Awards projects take compelling looks at the timely themes of immigration, segregation, community sustainability, and the quest to find a sense of home in our polarized society.
To date, the Joyce Awards have granted $3.5 million to commission 65 new works connecting artists with cultural organizations throughout the Great Lakes region. Joyce Award-winning artists have gone on to world-wide acclaim, to leading their disciplines in artistic achievement and innovation, and to heading artistic initiatives that strive to make the arts accessible to everyone. Commissioning organizations have reported record numbers of attendees for award-related programs, new alliances with organizational peers, and recognition from and greater coordination with municipal agencies.
It is because the Joyce Foundation recognizes the generative impact of these awards historically that they are deeply excited to announce the 2019 Joyce Awards winners below:
Cleveland Public Theatre & Lisa Langford (Cleveland)
Cleveland-based playwright, Lisa Langford, will stage a new play with the Cleveland Public Theatre entitled, Rastus and Hattie. Set in the near future, the play takes a page from the story of a real human-like robot developed by Westinghouse in the 1930’s. The robot, designed with brown skin, and clad in overalls, was to be a prototype of a fleet of time-saving laborers. Langford’s modern-day play will revisit this historical moment to confront the nexus of race and history and underscore the need for deeper human interaction, compassion and understanding.
Lao Assistance Center & Bryan Thao Worra (Minneapolis)
The Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota will engage poet, Bryan Thao Worra, who will work with a number of contributing artists to produce Laomagination: 45, an interactive, interdisciplinary exhibition presenting multi-generational stories of the Lao community as it marks its 45th anniversary of migrating to Minnesota, now home to one of the largest Lao populations outside of Southeast Asia.
Playhouse Square & Kaneza Schaal and Christopher Myers (Cleveland)
Cleveland’s Playhouse Square will commission Cartography, a new theatrical work by theater artist, Kaneza Schaal, and award-winning author and illustrator, Christopher Myers. Designed to directly interact with youth around the themes of population migration, the travelling work will partner with local refugee service organizations and the Cuyahoga County Public Library and will engage residents in large-scale mapmaking and storytelling workshops in building its narrative.
Smart Museum of Art at UChicago & Emmanuel Pratt (Chicago)
People, Energy, Light, Power: the [Re]Construction of Ethos, will focus on the year-long renovation and activation of an abandoned house in the Perry Avenue area neighborhood where Englewood and Washington Park intersect. A group of international artists will be led by Chicago’s Emmanuel Pratt, founder of the Sweet Water Foundation, in partnership with the Smart Museum of Art. Pratt will work with a corps of youth apprentices on this placekeeping effort to recreate a place of safety and opportunity for the community.
TRUE Skool & Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, CHELOVE, and Aja Black (Milwaukee)
Milwaukee’s center for creative arts and hip-hop culture, TRUE Skool, will give local youth an opportunity to collaborate with three leading female hip hop artists to create new breakdancing, MC and graffiti-style art works. New York City’s pioneering breakdance artist, Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, notable Washington, D.C. muralist, Cita Sadeli (CHELOVE), and Colorado-based MC, Aja Black, will mentor young artists and aspiring arts administrators as they develop works for a community block party and various public exhibitions.
Gallery 400 at UIC & Adela Goldbard (Chicago)
Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago will commission Mexican visual artist, Adela Goldbard, to create The Last Judgment, a participatory art exhibition at Gallery 400, that will culminate in a mobile performance throughout Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Featuring large-scale sculptures and pyrotechnic displays, this multi-pronged collaboration will draw on residents’ experiences of environmental justice, migration, and safety as they envision a collective future for this culturally rich community.
The Joyce Foundation is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. We support policy research, development, and advocacy in five areas: Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, Democracy, and Culture. The Joyce Foundation has budgeted 2018 charitable distributions of $50 million on assets of approximately $1 billion.
Nearly 400,000 Laotian refugees escaped Laos since the Secret War ended in 1975. Minnesota is home to the 3rd largest Lao refugee population in the US. Less than one in 10 graduate college, yet Minnesota is home to many of the leading Lao American artists in the country. Laos was a monarchy the size of Great Britain whose arts express cultural values of compassion, the search for enlightenment, education, truth and the building of community. The arts open many opportunities for social transformation.
I will work throughout this project with Kaysone Syonesa, a fellow Lao artist in Minnesota. She holds a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota, and over the last decade has been a performing artist, director, set and costume designer and playwright. She has performed with various performing arts companies including Pangea World Theater, Teatro del Pueblo, Green T Productions, and Ananya Dance Theatre. She previously collaborated with me on the pop-up exhibit series in Minneapolis entitled Laomagination: Transitions and we will be working together on numerous other projects throughout 2019. We look forward to sharing more news of our progress on this project throughout the year!
Thank you as always for your continuing support!