About the Sally Awards

Since 1992, the Sally Awards have honored individuals and institutions that strengthen and enrich our entire state with their commitment to the arts and arts education. The awardees’ talents and determination help enrich Minnesota’s unique culture and quality of life.

The Sally Award is 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. Her award is permanently installed in the Ordway’s Target Atrium.

To honor Sally’s commitment to all of the arts, the Sally Awards are presented annually to acknowledge achievement and contribution in the three areas for which Sally herself was recognized: Vision, Initiative and Commitment. A fourth category, Education, was added in 1996 to acknowledge the importance of education in nurturing a passion for the arts in future generations. In 2010, another category was added to complement the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s focus on engaging more people in the arts. The Arts Access category recognizes the importance of increasing access and citizen participation in the arts. Nominees’ achievements in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion will be highly valued in reviewing and selecting award recipients in all five categories.

Each year, one person or organization is honored in each of these five categories:


Recognizes exemplary creative thinking and action in support or development of a body of work that has had long-term impact on the community. Examples include creation of new artistic/cultural opportunities, or leading the community in new directions of artistic expression.


Recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual or organization that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.


Recognizes lifetime achievement, contribution, and leadership in the arts and/or culture.


Recognizes an individual/organization or particular project that has had a significant impact on education or mentoring in the arts and has contributed to increasing knowledge about the arts throughout the community.

Arts Access

Recognizes extraordinary efforts to engage a broader and more diverse audience in the arts, or to deepen the involvement that Minnesota citizens have with the arts. This award was inspired by the Legacy Amendment and its impact on enhancing access to the arts statewide.

In addition to receiving a glass award, each category winner also receives a check for $1,000.

Thank You

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

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