The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts today announced the recipients of the 2011 Sally Ordway Irvine Awards. Now in its 20th year, the Sally Awards honor extraordinary achievement in the visual, performing and literary arts.
The 2011 Sally Award winners are:
ARTS ACCESS: Rick Jacobson
EDUCATION: Ross Sutter
COMMITMENT: Kevin Smith
VISION: Ta-Coumba T. Aiken
INITIATIVE: TU Dance
“Over the course of the past two decades, the Ordway has been privileged to honor more than 70 outstanding Minnesota artists, administrators, organizations and volunteers through these awards,” said Patricia A. Mitchell, Ordway president and CEO. “Our honorees personify the creative spirit and commitment to the arts for which our state is rightfully known. The depth and breadth of talent in Minnesota is truly remarkable.”
Shortly after its grand opening in 1985, Sally Ordway Irvine was presented with the “First Trust Award,” for her initiative, vision and commitment in the creation of Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. In 1992, the Ordway began the Sally Ordway Irvine Awards, which are presented annually to honor individuals and institutions that strengthen and enrich the entire state with their commitment to the arts and arts education through their Vision, Initiative and Commitment – the same attributes for which Sally herself was recognized. In recent years, two new awards were added honoring Education and Arts Access.
The 2011 Sally Award recipients were selected by a committee consisting of Ordway representatives, the 2010 Sally Award recipients, Minnesota State Arts Board and media representatives, and other leaders from the Minnesota arts and cultural community. The 2011 Sally Awards program is supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, Minnesota Public Radio and Saint Paul Hotel.
Rick Jacobson has described more than 850 Theater Productions in the Twin Cities since 1994. He helped establish nationally recognized audio description practices for television by scripting and/or voicing more than 1,900 children’s and educational programs for PBS, Nickelodeon and other networks. He has described a wide variety of shows from Shakespeare to “Spamalot” and from Dame Edna to the public TV program “Secrets of the Genome Revealed.” He has been the fifth and unseen spirit for blind patrons attending the Guthrie’s “A Christmas Carol” since 1995. He has also described arena concerts for Neil Diamond, Tina Turner and Bette Midler, and Theater Productions for cruise passengers traveling through Europe, Alaska and Mexico.
Jacobson’s interest in the stage began when he played a lumberjack in his fourth grade holiday pageant and continued through his wholly forgettable Blackbeard Teach in “The Devil and Daniel Webster” during high school. His first “real” theater experience was attending “The Merchant of Venice” at the Guthrie in the mid-1970s. At present, he works regularly with nearly 20 local venues and describes more than 90 shows each year.
For nearly 30 years, Ross Sutter has impacted Minnesota through his work with schools and cultural organizations. His school residencies are a lively excursion into diverse cultures, with an emphasis on student involvement. His influence has spread out from his home on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Island to communities large and small throughout Minnesota as well as elsewhere in the U.S. and in Europe. Sutter plays an array of folk instruments—guitar, bodhran, button accordion, dulcimer, bones—but is perhaps best known for his singular baritone voice, performing renditions of Irish, Scottish, Scandinavian, and American traditional and popular songs. Sutter nurtures a passion for the arts in schools and cultural organizations with his engaging performances and long-term residencies.
Sutter has performed on radio, television and at festivals, and works regularly in schools teaching the songs and folk dances that he has collected over the years. His rapport with children is extraordinary, but he also possesses the unique ability to thoroughly entertain the adults in the audience as well. His work is featured on the recordings “Walking on Air,” “Up the Raw,” “Crossing the Shannon,” “Hunger No More,” “Songs By Heart,” “Over the Water,” “Ye Banks and Braes,” and on his popular children’s CD, “Mama Will You Buy Me a Banana?”