-Minnesota State Arts Board - Minnesota North Star
2005 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts announced the recipients of the 2005 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards this week. The awards are given annually to individuals and/or organizations that make significant contributions to Minnesota's arts and cultural communities. They are presented in four categories: Vision, Initiative, Commitment, and Education.

The 2005 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards recipients are:

VISION: Seitu Jones
INITIATIVE: Chris Osgood
COMMITMENT: Joan Mondale
EDUCATION: SteppingStone Theatre
Accepting the award
Richard Hitchler, Artistic Director

Seitu Kenneth Jones

Seitu Kenneth Jones:
Recipient of the 2005 Sally Award for Vision

Seitu Jones creates large-scale public artworks. Recent commissions include the Van White Memorial Boulevard in Minneapolis, a sandblasted design for Husky Stadium in St. Cloud State University, and the Rondo Community Library collaboration in Saint Paul. Jones's art has been exhibited at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the American Craft Museum in New York, and the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC.

As a scenic designer, he has created sets for Penumbra Theater (where he is a company member), SteppingStone Theatre, Macalester College, Pangea World Theater, the Children's Theatre Company-Minneapolis, the Guthrie Theater, the Illusion Theater, and the Walker Art Center in Minnesota, as well as First Stages Milwaukee, the Chernin Center for the Arts in Chicago, and PS 122 in New York.

Jones is Chair of the Jerome Foundation Board of Directors. Among the awards Jones has received are the 2005-2006 Bush Leadership Fellowship, an artist-in-residence at Harvard University's Ceramic Program, and a Loeb Fellowship, also at Harvard, with the Graduate School of Design.

Chris Osgood  

Chris Osgood:
Recipient of the 2005 Sally Award for Initiative

Chris Osgood is Director of Artist Services at Springboard for the Arts in Saint Paul. He provides programming and professional services for artists of all disciplines and is manager of Springboard's Artist Loan Fund and Artist Emergency Relief Fund. Last year Chris met with, or spoke to, more than 3,000 self-employed creative people about marketing, career planning, and other professional development issues related to making a living as an artist.

Before Springboard, Chris was label manager and producer at Twin/Tone Records, an independent artist oriented label located in Minneapolis. He is a guitar player, and was named Rock Guitarist of the Year at the 1989 Minnesota Music Awards.

Osgood recently served on the boards of Franklin Art Works (where he was Board President), and the Developing Arts and Music Foundation (Board Chair), and on the advisory boards of the Native American Music Association and the Fairview Arts Medicine Center. Chris represents Minnesota at national conferences of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and maintains an attorney referral file for Springboard clients. He is a member of the faculty of MacPhail Center for the Arts where he teaches pop songwriting. Chris was appointed by Governor Jesse Ventura to the Minnesota State Arts Board in February, 2001. He served until July, 2005 as one of eleven appointees from around the state who oversee Arts Board activities.

Joan Mondale  

Joan Mondale:
Recipient of the 2005 Sally Award for Commitment

Living in Washington, D.C., beginning in 1964 when Mondale's husband Walter took a seat in the United States Senate, gave Joan Mondale an exciting opportunity to pursue her interests in politics and art. Mrs. Mondale gave weekly tours of the National Gallery of Art and served as a board member of the Woman's National Democratic Club and the Associated Council of the Arts, among other pursuits. In 1972, she wrote the book Politics in Art, and a few years later, she resumed her work as a potter, studying weekly with a master potter in Northern Virginia. She continued her studies as well as her arts advocacy even while campaigning for her husband in his races for Vice President in 1976 and 1980 and for President in 1984.

In 1977, President Carter named Mrs. Mondale Honorary Chairperson of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. During the next four years when she was nicknamed Joan of Art, Mrs. Mondale traveled countless miles throughout the country focusing attention on, and encouraging support for, the arts. She continually sought ways for government at all levels to assist and encourage the arts, and as part of that effort, she used the Vice President's House as a showcase for the work of living American artists, including specially commissioned table settings by American artists.

Since 1981, as a private citizen, Joan Mondale has continued her role of arts advocate. While her husband was Ambassador to Japan from 1993-1997, Mrs. Mondale continued her support of visual arts in Tokyo. Ms. Mondale was instrumental in the development of both the Textile Center and the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. She continues to travel throughout the country, speaking out in support of the arts and studying weekly with her pottery teacher. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Walker Art Center, the Minnesota Orchestra, and Macalester College.

SteppingStone Theatre  

SteppingStone Theatre:
Recipient of the 2005 Sally Award for Education.

Accepting the award: Artistic Director Richard Hitchler

SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development was founded by Carla Barwineck in 1987 the day after Chimera Theatre closed. As Chimera's Education Director, she had contracts for two artist-in-residence programs at inner-city St. Paul schools. She couldn't bear to disappoint the students, so she created SteppingStone Theatre to complete the work. From that day to this, SteppingStone Theatre's focus has been on reaching out to children and youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in theatre, and providing them with an expanding range of educational theatre experiences.
In the past eight years, led by Artistic Director Richard Hitchler, the theatre has grown to serve over 70,000 children, youth, schools and families each year, and has more than doubled its operating budget, ticket sales, and contributions, raising the profile of the theatre while expanding its commitment to accessibility for any and all while maintaining balanced budgets every year.
The mission of the theatre is "to develop the whole child by using educational theatre programs and fully-staged productions to build self-esteem, confidence, and a sense of community, while celebrating diversity in a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere."

There are many organizations where children and families can attend arts events, but at no other theatre do young audiences see highly diverse casts made up solely of young actors performing in stories and roles that reflect the issues and concerns of today's children and youth. Likewise, no other theatre offers as many opportunities for young people to participate at no cost to them.

Far more than teaching theatre skills for their own sake, all of SteppingStone Theatre's programs use the theatre arts as a jumping-off point for encouraging the development of life skills. As each child's horizons are expanded and his or her confidence grows, the entire community benefits by having not just another creative, self-confident child, but a role model for other children in the community.

Richard Hitchler was appointed Executive and Artistic Director by the founder of SteppingStone Theatre in November 1997. Richard earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota and has been working in professional theatre since 1987. Locally, he has worked with Children's Theatre Company, Small Change Theatre, Cricket Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Illusion Theater. Richard also spent a number of years in Florida, working with Florida Studio Theatre, and the Orlando Shakespeare Festival. He is a recent graduate of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute, led the St. Paul A.C.E. facilities committee, and has served on Minnesota State Arts Board panels and the St. Paul Cultural STAR Board. Hitchler began working with SteppingStone Theatre as an artist-educator in 1995, and began directing productions shortly thereafter.

Under Hitchler's leadership, the theatre has commissioned and produced more than twenty new plays by local playwrights, including: the award-winning Riding the Rails by Ann Schulman; The Stinky Cheese Man (and Other Fairly Stoopid Tales) by Kent Stephens, which has been produced by theatres across the country; The Finger Dance by Flint Keller and Mark Jensen, which was recognized by the National Theatre of the Deaf as an "outstanding work for young people;" three plays co-produced with Theater Mu; three bi-lingual plays by Al Justiniano; and a play by Graham Gremore, a young playwright who was an actor in multiple SteppingStone Theatre plays.

The Sally Ordway Irvine Awards are based on an award received by Ordway Center founder Sally Ordway Irvine in 1986. This award, now on display in Ordway Center's lobby, was presented to Sally Ordway Irvine by First Trust (now U.S. Bank Trust) to recognize her singular role in making Ordway Center for the Performing Arts a reality. Three of the categories for the Sally Ordway Irvine Awards – Vision, Initiative, and Commitment – are taken from the wording on this award. The fourth category, Education, was added in 1996 because of its importance in building understanding, use, and support of the arts in young people and others.

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