October 05, 2017

O’Shaughnessy wins $145,000 Knight Foundation grant with Rosy Simas Danse and the Ordway

From SKIN(S) 2016 by Rosy Simas. Photo by Brandan McMillan

When the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation put out a call this January for “the best” arts ideas in St. Paul, it received hundreds of submissions. Among them, a joint proposal from The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, Rosy Simas Danse and The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Last night, the trio got the good news.

“WEAVE: Blanketing St Paul in Native Feminism” was one of 29 St. Paul-oriented projects that will split the $1.5 million Knight Arts Challenge funds. In fact, its $145,000 grant was a sizeable slice of the pie.

“It's one of the largest awards in Knight's four-year history of arts challenges,” said Kathleen Spehar, O'Shaughnessy director (photo). “It’s also the largest single programming grant The O’Shaughnessy has ever received."

According to the project proposal, WEAVE “will envelop audiences in an immersive public performance of story, dance and quadraphonic sound, woven together from conversations with indigenous, trans/queer and feminist/womanist artists of color and community members.” The performance is slated to open in January 2019 at the Ordway.

Spehar led the team from The O’Shaughnessy, which included Robin Gillette and Ross Willits; while the Ordway collaborators were Shelley Quiala and Dayna Martinez. Rosy Simas is an award-winning choreographer, performer, and indigenous and multicultural arts advocate based in Minneapolis.

The Knight Arts Challenge winners were selected based on how they “best reflected the city and the immense creative talent of its residents,” stated the official award announcement. “The resulting winning ideas show a city reflecting upon itself through the lens of its history, its people and its places.”

The Knight Foundation is a private national foundation that invests in journalism, arts, technology and communities in 26 cities where the Knight brothers once published newspapers.

by Pauline Oo