December 08, 2016

Joyce Foundation awards O'Shaughnessy $50,000 grant to produce new work from Ananya Dance Theatre

Production photo from "Horidraa: Golden Healing" (2016). Photo by V. Paul Virtucio.

The O'Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University is one of two Minnesota organizations awarded a $50,000 grant to support collaborations with artists of color from the Joyce Foundation's annual awards competition. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts was also an award winner.

The Joyce Awards is the only program supporting artists of color in major Great Lakes cities. The Chicago-based foundation has awarded nearly $3 million to commission 55 new works since the program started in 2003.

The O'Shaughnessy will commission Ananya Chatterjea artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, to develop and stage a new production called "Shaatranga" in 2018. Meaning "seven-colored" in Chatterjea's native Bengali, the work will celebrate women's labors as community sustainers and change agents, using blue jeans as metaphor for shared humanity and the multifaceted and different journeys of women of color to achieve justice. The 18-month collaboration will include students from St. Kate's and refugees living in the Twin Cities.

"This support from The Joyce Foundation will broaden the collaboration that The O’Shaughnessy and Ananya Dance Theatre began in 2012 to share women’s stories through performance and inspire passion for justice around the globe,” says Kathleen Spehar, director of The O’Shaughnessy. “The 'Shaatranga' collaboration – deepening dialogue with St. Catherine students and our community – will amplify the collective voices of women."

A distinctive feature of the Joyce Awards is that a winners' work must include the process of engaging community members to inform and shape their art. Community forums, workshops, panel discussions, social media input and one-on-one conversations will help influence each artist's final presentation.

“It is exciting to see such a powerful focus not only on the creative aspects of these works, but also on how the artists plan to involve diverse communities in their development and presentation,” said Ellen Alberding, president of The Joyce Foundation. “We are confident these productions will do a great job of telling stories that can foster civic participation and cross-cultural understanding, and we are proud to support them and showcase the artistic talent of the Great Lakes region.”

​Additional 2017 award winners

The Cuyahoga Community College Foundation in Cleveland won a Joyce Award to commission new jazz work by Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer, Terence Blanchard. The Free State Theater in Chicago will commission a new play, Meet Juan(ito), from playwright Ricardo Gamboa. Finally, Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music will commission Quantum Music/Englewood from musicians Ernest Dawkins and Rahul Sharma.

​About the Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation works with grantee partners to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and achieve a fair society. We focus grant making primarily on the Great Lakes region, and also have national impact through our program areas – Education, Employment, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention, Democracy and Culture. Our Culture program focuses on strengthening and diversifying arts organizations, building capacity within the arts sector and investing in the creative capital of artists of color. Joyce was established in 1948 in Chicago, and over the years has continued to respond to changing social needs.