Joyce Awards2019 Social 1120X584 V1 All Winners

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Record Six Art Collaborations in Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Milwaukee Receive $50,000 Joyce Awards



Artists in Great Lakes Region Win Joyce Awards to Create New Works Reflecting Their Diverse Communities
Six Art and Culture Collaborations in Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Milwaukee Awarded $50,000 Grants

CHICAGO – The Joyce Foundation announced today that the 2019 Joyce Awards have been awarded to six collaborations between artists of color and arts and cultural organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee and the Twin Cities.

The $50,000 grants will develop works that engage, educate, and challenge while celebrating the diversity in their local communities.

This year’s Joyce Awards projects will take a creative and compelling look at the timely themes of immigration, segregation, community sustainability and finding a sense of home in our polarized society.

“For 15 years, the Joyce Awards have been a celebration of cultural diversity. This year, given the climate in our country, there is a greater need to spotlight efforts that encourages an appreciation of diversity as a strength of our society,” said Ellen Alberding, President of the Joyce Foundation. “We’re thrilled to support these incredible artists and vital cultural organizations that brilliantly help shape our understanding of each other.”

To date, the Joyce Awards have granted $3.5 million to commission 65 new works connecting artists with cultural organizations throughout the Great Lakes region. The $50,000 award is used to support artists in the creation and production of a new work and provides the commissioning organization the resources needed to engage potential audiences, new partners and their larger communities.

“What stands out about this cohort of Joyce Award winners is that they are directly taking on the biggest challenges facing their communities,” said Tracie Hall, director of The Joyce Foundation’s Culture Program. “These artists are asking questions like ‘how does a community come together to create its own strategy to address economic disinvestment?’ and ‘how can communities use art to chronicle and ultimately subvert histories of segregation?’ The weight of these questions has the potential to change the artists, the institutions that have commissioned them, and the communities they engage. That three-fold impact has become the hallmark of the Joyce Awards.”

The 2019 Joyce Awards Winners:

Cleveland Public Theatre and Lisa Langford (Cleveland)
Cleveland-based playwright, Lisa Langford, will stage a new play with the Cleveland Public Theatre entitled, Rastus and Hattie. Set in the near future, the play takes a page from the story of a real human-like robot developed by Westinghouse in the 1930’s. The robot, designed with brown skin, and clad in overalls, was to be a prototype of a fleet of time-saving laborers. Langford’s modern-day play will revisit this historical moment to confront the nexus of race and history and underscore the need for deeper human interaction, compassion and understanding.

Lao Assistance Center and Bryan Thao Worra (Minneapolis)
The Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota will engage poet, Bryan Thao Worra, to produce Laomagination: 45, an interactive, interdisciplinary exhibition presenting multi-generational stories of the Lao community as it marks its 45th anniversary of migrating to Minnesota, now home to one of the largest Lao populations outside of Southeast Asia.

Playhouse Square Foundation with Kaneza Schaal and Christopher Myers (Cleveland)
Cleveland’s Playhouse Square will commission Cartography. a new theatrical work by theater artist, Kaneza Schaal, and award-winning author and illustrator, Christopher Myers.  Designed to directly interact with youth around the themes of population migration, the travelling work will partner with local refugee service organizations and the Cuyahoga County Public Library and will engage residents in large-scale mapmaking and storytelling workshops in building its narrative.

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago and Emmanuel Pratt
People, Energy, Light, Power: the [Re]Construction of Ethos, will focus on the year-long renovation and activation of an abandoned house in the Perry Avenue area neighborhood where Englewood and Washington Park intersect. A group of international artists will be led by Chicago’s Emmanuel Pratt, founder of  the Sweet Water Foundation, in partnership with  the Smart Museum of Art. Pratt will work with a corps of youth apprentices on this placekeeping effort to recreate a place of safety and opportunity for the community.

TRUE Skool with Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, CHELOVE and Aja Black (Milwaukee)
Milwaukee’s center for creative arts and hip-hop culture, TRUE Skool, will give local youth an opportunity to collaborate with three leading female hip hop artists to create new breakdancing, MC and graffiti-style art works. New York City’s pioneering breakdance artist, Ana “Rokafella” Garcia, notable Washington, D.C. muralist, Cita Sadeli (CHELOVE), and Colorado-based MC, Aja Black, will mentor young artists and aspiring arts administrators as they develop works for a community block party and various public exhibitions.

Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Adela Goldbard
Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago will commission Mexican visual artist, Adela Goldbard, to create The Last Judgment, a participatory art exhibition at Gallery 400, and to produce a culminating mobile performance throughout Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Featuring large-scale sculptures and pyrotechnic displays, this multi-pronged collaboration will draw on residents’ experiences of environmental justice, migration, and safety as they envision a collective future for this culturally rich community.

To view a video on the Joyce Awards, please click here.

For more information on the Joyce Awards and the Joyce Foundation, please visit

About The Joyce Foundation
The Joyce Foundation is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. We support policy research, development, and advocacy in five areas: Education & Economic MobilityEnvironmentGun Violence Prevention & Justice ReformDemocracy, and Culture. The Joyce Foundation has budgeted 2018 charitable distributions of $50 million on assets of approximately $1 billion.