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VIDEO PREMIERE: Ordway to release special Sally Awards presentation honoring local Black artists

Video to premiere on YouTube on Dec. 26, the first day of Kwanzaa


December 22, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts announced today that in lieu of giving out Sally Awards this year, the nonprofit will celebrate the work of three Black male artists making an impact in Minnesota, all of whom have received a past Sally Award. Titled “Visionaries Who Matter,” the celebration will take the form of a free virtual presentation premiering on the Ordway’s YouTube channel at on Dec. 26, the first day of Kwanzaa.

“In this time of a global health crisis and societal awakening to racial injustice, expression through the arts and coming together as a community are desperately needed,” said Robin Hickman-Winfield, director of the Taking Our Place Centerstage program at the Ordway and executive producer of SoulTouch Productions. “Even though we can’t put on an in-person show or awards ceremony, it is critical that the Ordway find ways to uplift and celebrate the impact of Black voices and Black artists who are creating profound work and enriching our community.”

WHAT: Video premiere: “Visionaries Who Matter”

WHO: The following artists will be featured:

• Seitu Jones, visual artist who designed stencils of George Floyd used widely across the country

• Gary Hines, director/producer, Sounds of Blackness

• Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director, Penumbra Theatre

WHEN: Dec. 26, 2020

Video will go live at midnight

WHERE: The Ordway’s YouTube channel

Every year for the past 27 years, the Ordway has honored members of Minnesota’s artistic community with Sally Awards, which recognize and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of artists, educators, volunteers, philanthropists and leaders who strengthen and enrich our state with their commitment to the arts. The awards are based on the “First Trust Award” presented in 1986 to Sally Ordway Irvine, whose initiative, vision and commitment inspired the creation of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in 1980. The awards typically honor individuals and institutions in five categories: arts access, arts learning, commitment, initiative and social impact.

Narrated by Minnesota Public Radio President Duchesne Drew, “Visionaries Who Matter” highlights the work of three artists whose commitment to racial and social justice and healing has been further inspired by recent events and whose artistry has made a significant impact locally, nationally and globally: Lou Bellamy, 1994 Sally Award Winner and Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Penumbra Theatre Company; Gary Hines, 2004 Sally Award Winner and Music Director and Producer of the three-time Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness; and Seitu Jones, 2005 Sally Award Winner and multi-disciplinary public artist and Co-Founder of Frogtown Farm. All three artists are interviewed about their work, legacies and involvement in the movement for racial and social justice.

“For such a time as this, we look to artists for understanding and healing. Some of the most profound artistic work and meaningful community contributions have emerged from these three men, right here in Minnesota. We hope to present a soul touching gift that will keep on giving,” added Hickman-Winfield.


Recognized as one of the country’s leading not-for-profit performing arts centers, the Ordway presents and produces a wide variety of performances throughout the year that encompass the finest in Broadway musicals, concerts, dance and vocal artists. The Ordway serves over 60,000 children each year through its education programs and presents the annual Flint Hills Family Festival. The performing arts center houses a 1,900-seat Music Theater, a 1,100-seat Concert Hall and magnificent lobbies. The Ordway is a proud member of the Arts Partnership, a collaboration comprising the Ordway, Minnesota Opera, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Schubert Club.


Taking Our Place Centerstage is the Ordway Center for the Performing Art’s ongoing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. Led by Organizational and Community Partnership Strategist Robin Hickman-Winfield, the program enables the Ordway to partner with members of African and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities on creative programming, education and entertainment for all.


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