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 27th annual Sally Awards recipients!


From left to right: Janis Lane-Ewart, Chamindika Wanduragala, Kao Kalia Yang, Scott Lykins, Saymoukda Vongsay


Lake Area Music FestivalARTS ACCESS | Lake Area Music Festival

The Lakes Area Music Festival was established in Brainerd during 2009 when a group of students from the Eastman School of Music came to Minnesota for the summer. Enlisting guests from the Minnesota Orchestra, these students put on concerts that quickly gained popularity and widespread support. Today, the organization brings 190 artists from the top orchestras and operas companies across the globe to the each August to collaborate on chamber music, orchestra, opera, and ballet.

In addition to nationally acclaimed performances, the organization offers an extensive outreach program, bringing musicians out of the concert hall and into community spaces. Year-round education activities reach and inspire over 2,500 public school students every year. With the belief that excellent art should be accessible to all, each performance is presented without a set admission fee; instead, concert-goers are asked to donate as they are able.

Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop

ARTS LEARNING | Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop

Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop was founded in 2016 by Chamindika Wanduragala, to support Native/POC in developing creative and technical skills in contemporary puppetry. Puppetry has been practiced around the world since ancient times, but in the United States, the contemporary field is largely white. It’s hard to have a point of entry when you don’t see yourself reflected. Monkeybear addresses this barrier by providing access to development in this powerful form of storytelling.Through workshops and mentorship, they are creating opportunities to gain skills, artistry, and experience in contemporary puppet theater, so all people can be represented in this art form and participate in opportunities in the wider puppetry community in Minnesota. Monkeybear has had a local and national impact, and has just received their 501(c)(3), so they look forward to growing their programming and community!

Janis Lane-EwartCOMMITMENT | Janis Lane-Ewart

Janis Lane-Ewart hails from Chicago, Illinois and began her career as an arts administrator in 1977. Her work with nonprofit organizations led her to Minneapolis, MN in 1989, where she currently resides as a Development Officer at KBEM, Jazz88.FM (Minneapolis, MN) and engaged with varied nonprofit organizations in the Midwest as a development consultant and media producer.

Lane-Ewart has an extensive background as an arts administrator working with local, regional, and nationally-based arts organizations requiring expertise with operational management of nonprofits; grant writing/fundraising/development; strategic planning, project development, and initiation of youth-based programs, especially within communities of color. She has provided services to nonprofit organizations such as Arts Presenters, the Rhythm & Blues Foundation (Washington, DC); Little Black Pearl, Jazz Institute of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and Muntu Dance Theatre (Chicago, IL); and, as KFAI, Fresh Air Radio’s Executive Director for twelve years.

Lane-Ewart is actively involved in community service by providing guidance and/or governance, on the boards of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association, Community Shares of Minnesota, COMPAS, Midtown Global Market, Intermedia Arts, Ananya Dance Theatre, KRSM-FM Advisory Board, and as Immediate Past Treasurer of the Association of Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations (AMPERS).

Additionally, Lane-Ewart remains active in mentoring youth of color seeking direction and leadership towards advancing their educational and community-based careers.

Saymoukda VongsayINITIATIVE | Saymoukda Vongsay

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American writer. Her work focuses on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production. Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, and Theater Unbound. She’s a Playwrights’ Center and Theater Mu fellow in playwriting, a Loft Literary Center fellow in poetry (2018) and children’s literature (2019), a Twin Cities Media Alliance fellow in public art, and an Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation scholar. She’s received grants from the Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Forecast Public Art, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, MN State Arts Board, and elsewhere. Her work has been mentioned by the New York Times, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, MN Original, Minnesota Public Radio, and more. She holds a Master in Liberal Studies degree and co-hosted a podcast on Minnesota Public Radio. 

Kao Kalia YangSOCIAL IMPACT | Kao Kalia Yang

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. Born in the refugee camps of Thailand to a family that had fled the aftermath of America’s Secret War in Laos, she came to America at the age six. Raised in the housing projects of Saint Paul, Yang is a graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University’s MFA Program. She is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Readers’ Choice, and a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction. The book is a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read title. Her second book, The Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, 2016), won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction Memoir, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize. The book will be the first Hmong story adapted into an opera by the Minnesota Opera for debut in the spring of 2021. In the fall of 2019, Yang will debut her first children’s book, A Map Into the World (Carolrhoda Books) and a co-edited collection titled What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Indigenous Women and Women of Color (University of MN Press). Additionally, Yang has eight children’s books sold to Kokila Press, Carolrhoda Books, and the University of Minnesota Press. Kao Kalia Yang is also a teacher and a sought-after public speaker.


Minnesota State Arts Board sponsorship information