Sally Awards

Celebrating Minnesota’s commitment to the arts

The Sally Awards recognize and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of artists, educators, volunteers, philanthropists, and leaders who strengthen and enrich the stage of Minnesota with their commitment to the arts and arts education.

Congratulations to the recipients of the 25th Sally Awards!

Recipients of the 25th annual Sally Awards. Photo by Laura Alpizar.
25th Sally Awards recipients pose with Ordway president and CEO Jamie Grant. From left to right: Shari Aronson and Chris Griffiths of Z Puppets Rosenschoz, Hunter Gullickson, Ta-coumba T. Aiken representing J. Otis Powell‽, Jamie Grant, Bee Yang, and Rhiana Yazzie. Photo by Laura Alpizar.

On October 16, 2017, nearly 450 people came together at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall to recognize and celebrate the amazing life, works and impacts of the recipients of the 25th Sally Awards. Each recipients were chosen by a selection committee from a pool of 90 submitted nominations. We congratulate each of them for their recognition!

Arts Access – Hunter Gullickson

As Accessibility Manager, Hunter Gullickson spearheads the Guthrie Theater’s access programs that include American Sign Language interpretation, audio description, open captioning, Braille publications and the T.O.P. financial access initiative.  Additionally, he looks beyond the performance experience, striving to ensure that the Guthrie facility is welcoming to people of all abilities.  Gullickson’s influence reaches many local arts organizations by providing access equipment and consultations. He helped establish the recently formed MN Access Alliance and serves on its steering committee. On a personal note, Gullickson adores his family and enjoys drumming with highland bagpipe bands and creating fun crochet projects.

Initiative – Bee Yang

Bee Yang was born in the high mountains of Laos in the break of the Laotian Civil War and grew up during America’s Secret War in Laos. As a child, he sat at the knees of the great song poets of his time. As a young man, Yang became a respected voice in song poetry for his people, singing the songs of their lived experiences, giving voice to their grief, channeling generations of hope and despair. In 1979 Yang and his family made their way to the refugee camps of Thailand where  he continued to sing the songs of his people, documenting their tragedies and yearning for home. In 1987, Yang came to St. Paul with his young family as part of the biggest wave of Hmong refugees to enter the country.  He continued to sing at Hmong New Year’s festivals and family gatherings. In 1992 he came out with an album of song poetry, Kwv Txhiaj Hmoob, Hmong Song Poetry. His second album, Thaum Hluas Txog Hnub Laus, When the Days of  Youth are Gone, was released in 2014. Earlier this year Yang was recognized as one of AARP’s 50 Minnesotans Over 50. He continues to practice Hmong song poetry for the elders who remember the times before, and also for young generations so they will not forget the beauty and artistry of the song traditions they come from.

Commitment – J. Otis Powell‽

J. Otis Powell‽ was a writer, performance artist, mentor, curator and consultant. He was also a founding curator for Bridges—a performance arts program with Pangea World Theater, and a founding producer of the award winning Write On Radio! at KFAI-FM in Minneapolis while working as a program director and community liaison at the Loft Literary Center.

Powell‽’s fourth book, Waiting for a Spaceship was published by SPOUT Press in June of 2017. In February 2015, Powell‽ was the poetry editor for Blues Vision, an anthology produced in collaboration between Minnesota Humanities Center and Minnesota Historical Society Press. Rain Taxi launched Pieces of Sky in 2014. My Tongue Has No Bone, a book featuring art by Janice Lee Porter, was released in 2001 by Porter Publishing. His first book Theology, was celebrated in 1996 and handmade by Traffic Street Press. Powell‽’s words have been recorded and released on several CD and DVDs.

Powell‽ studied with Gloria Anzaldúa, Quincy Troupe, Amiri Baraka, Alexs Pate, Sekou Sundiata and Yusef Komunyakaa. He worked as co-mentor and performed with Amiri Baraka for the Givens Writer’s Retreat and TruRuts Endeavors. He was a recipient of a Loft Creative Nonfiction Award, a Jerome Travel and Study Grant as well as a Jerome Mid Career Artist Grant and an Intermedia Arts Interdisciplinary McKnight Fellowship.  The Minnesota Spoken Word Association awarded Powell‽ their Urban Griot Innovator Award and inducted him into their Hall Of Fame.

Education – Z Puppets Rosenschnoz

Z Puppets Rosenschnoz is a national touring company based in Minneapolis that brings the transformative power of playfulness to children and adults through performances and workshops. Their combination of hand-crafted puppetry, quirky humor and live music has won awards from Jim Henson Foundation, Puppeteers of America, MN State Arts Board, IVEY Awards and the Jerome and McKnight Foundations. Z Puppets’ Creative Directors and Founders Shari Aronson and Chris Griffith have earned the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, Educational Theater Association, Perpich Center for Arts Education, VSA MN, Arts for Academic Achievement and COMPAS for their extensive work in arts education. Z Puppets is a leader of innovative arts education in both academic and community settings through three key initiatives—Arts  for All Abilities, STEM of Puppetry, and Arts and Mindfulness.

Vision – Rhiana Yazzie

Rhiana Yazzie is a Navajo theater artist and filmmaker. She is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Fellow and a two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow.  She was a playwright in residence at the William Inge Center in Independence, Kansas where she is currently working on a play commission.  Other recent projects include a joint commission from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater to write a play for American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle.

Yazzie created New Native Theatre in 2009 in the Twin Cities.  Recent successes include Native Man the Musical and an original commission of a full-length musical comedy, 2012: The Musical! Yazzie is creating a 13 episode podcast, a comedy-drama series called Little Apple Big Apple about the highs and lows of being Native American living in the Twin Cities, and will soon finish shooting her first feature film, A WINTER LOVE.  Yazzie is a graduate of the Masters of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California.

The 25th Sally Awards is funded in part by the generous funding by:

Minnesota State Arts Board sponsorship information

Deluxe sponsorship information