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Four Art Collaborations in Chicago, Detroit, and Twin Cities Receive $50,000 Joyce Awards



Joyce Awards Marks 15th Anniversary Year with Collaborations between Great Lakes Artists of Color and Cultural Organizations Reflecting Themes of Cultural Identity, Gentrification, and How Movement Impacts a Peoples’ History

Four Art Collaborations in Chicago, Detroit and Twin Cities Awarded $50,000 Each to Create New Works that Engage Communities

CHICAGO – The Joyce Foundation announced today that the 2018 Joyce Awards have been awarded to four collaborations between artists of color and cultural organizations in Chicago, Detroit, and the Twin Cities. Links Hall and Onye Ozuzu; the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and jessica Care moore; the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and Rosy Simas Danse; and the Cedar Cultural Center and Aar Maanta have each been given $50,000 to activate their respective community engagement artworks in their Great Lakes cities.

The 2018 Joyce Awards marks the Joyce Foundation’s 15th year for the program. Started in 2003, the Joyce Awards is the only regional program dedicated to supporting artists of color in major Great Lakes cities with the goal of elevating their visibility and recognition in their craft. A distinctive feature of the Joyce Awards is the call for commissioned artists and their host institutions to include a robust community engagement plan as a main component of their projects – which can involve forums, workshops, panel discussions, one-on-one conversations, and social media.

“Now in our 15th year of the Joyce Awards, we are honored to support these incredible works that help to strengthen the bonds between artists, organizations, and communities,” said Ellen Alberding, President of the Joyce Foundation. “We look forward to the incredible stories they will share and the diverse mediums in which they will present those stories to the world.”

The competition has awarded nearly $3.25 million to commission 59 new works and collaborations between artists and cultural organizations in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis/St. Paul. The $50,000 award is used towards supporting an artist in the creation and production of a new work and providing the commissioning organization with the resources needed to engage potential audiences, new partners, and their surrounding communities at large.

“In a time of such dynamic social, economic, and political change, the winning projects for 2018 address themes of cultural identity, gentrification, and how labor shapes the movement of peoples and their histories,” said Tracie D. Hall, Culture Program Director at the Joyce Foundation. “These artists and organizations are pushing the boundaries of community engagement and social justice, and we cannot wait for these works to come to life.”

The 2018 Joyce Awards Winners:

Links Hall & Onye Ozuzu
Links Hall in Chicago will commission dancer and choreographer Onye Ozuzu for a production that explores the inter-relationships between body, task, and tool as an improvisational landscape to isolate and identify the actions, techniques, qualities, and capacities of the body involved in the act of building and working with tools. Entitled “Project Tool,” the intended outcome is to make a dance that connects the body of the performers as well as the bodies of the audiences to our shared human capacity to extend bodies and minds through tools as creative producers of our lived environments.

Links Hall Director Roell Schmidt comments, "Everyone at Links Hall is over the moon that Onye Ozuzu is receiving a Joyce Award and joining such a jawdroppingly impressive group of past and current awardees. Our partnership with Onye to date has been taking the Burnham 'no little plans' credo to heart. Now with the Joyce Foundation's support, Onye intends to push past the limits of the current dance ecosystem in Chicago and create space for dance to evolve. It is a true honor to 'aim high in hope and work' with Onye Ozuzu."

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History & jessica Care moore
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will commission a new theatrical work entitled Salt City by poet and playwright jessica Care moore, reflecting on themes of gentrification and cultural erasure, a much-debated effect of the Motor City’s economic revitalization. A mix of theater, dance, poetry and techno music all by Detroit artists, Salt City is the story of a city's survival and change through time.

“Artists sense the needs of a city and respond to them, and this production will speak powerfully about the present moment in Detroit,” comments Juanita Moore, President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. “We are thrilled to have received the Joyce Award, and we know that this project will expand and enhance the dialogue about how to build equitable communities in Detroit and beyond.” 

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts & Rosy Simas Danse
The Ordway in St. Paul, Minnesota, will commission Rosy Simas (Seneca, Heron Clan) to create “Weave,” an intersectional Native dance project that examines the interwoven and interdependent nature of our world. In “Weave,” individual histories will be woven into a performance that envelops the audience in an immersive experience of story, dance, moving image, and sound.  It will be presented in January 2019 as part of the Ordway’s Music & Movement Series.

“Receiving the Joyce Award not only makes possible the Ordway’s commission of ‘Weave,’ but will also support engagements that draw people deeply into both Rosy’s creative process, and the artwork that she and her collaborators create,” said Jamie Grant, President & CEO of the Ordway. “We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the project, and we are very grateful to the Joyce Foundation.”

The Cedar Cultural Center & Aar Maanta
The Cedar in Minneapolis, Minnesota will partner with Somali musician, Aar Maanta, to produce the first-ever bilingual album of children’s songs titled, Children’s Songs from the Somali Diaspora. Working with his band and other musicians from Minnesota, Aar Maanta will collaborate with Somali youth in Minneapolis’s Cedar Riverside neighborhood to write and record the album, which will be released and performed live at the Cedar in 2019.

“The Cedar has been building a cherished relationship with Aar Maanta for many years,” said Jessica Rau, Program & Artistic Director at the Cedar. “Our past residencies with him have been significant and meaningful for all of the people he has reached through his time in Minneapolis. The Joyce Award will deepen this impact by allowing Aar Maanta to collaborate with youth in our neighborhood to produce a tangible album of new work that will reach people around the world and last for generations to come.”

To view the Joyce Awards’ 15th Anniversary video, please click here.

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

About The Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation invests in policies, informed by evidence, to improve quality of life, promote safe and healthy communities, and build a just society for the people of the Great Lakes region. The Chicago-based foundation pursues those goals through grants to help prepare the region’s young people to thrive in education, career, and community, and to advance racial equity and economic mobility. The private, nonpartisan foundation centers its grant making in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and seeks opportunities to collaborate on promising policies in other states or at the federal level. It pursues policy and systems reform in five program areas: Education & Economic Mobility, the Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, Democracy, and Culture.  Joyce was established in 1948 by Beatrice Joyce Kean, sole heir to the Joyce family of Clinton, Iowa, which accumulated its wealth in the lumber and related industries. Joyce has budgeted charitable disbursements of $50 million in 2018, on assets of approximately $1 billion. For more information, please visit, or follow us on Twitter (@JoyceFdn) or Facebook (/JoyceFdn).

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