Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture - 2016 Winners

Congratulations to the 2016 winners and nominees! 

“Denver is full of talented artists and performers filling our galleries, museums, theatres and concert halls and enhancing our daily experiences with arts and culture. These award recipients exemplify Denver’s vibrant and diverse cultural and artistic scene. Through the work of these dedicated and inspiring individual and groups, the arts have become more accessible, visible, interactive and integrated into the lives of our residents and visitors.”
- Mayor Michael B. Hancock

Since 1986, the Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture have annually recognized individuals and organizations that make significant and lasting contributions to the arts in the City and County of Denver. 

On Monday, November 14, 2016, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Arts & Venues and the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs announced the 2016 recipients of the Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture at the McNichols Civic Center Building.This year's awards were designed by local artists AJ Kiel and Josiah Lopez with VSA Colorado/Access Gallery. 

ARTS & CULTURE YOUTH AWARD

This award is presented to a person under 18 that has made a noteworthy difference in the community through the arts or an organization that has significantly impacted the lives of youth in the City and County of Denver through the arts. Nominees: Anna Krutsinger and Louis Miller, Art from Ashes, Denver Public Library - After School is Cool, Inside the Orchestra and Platte Forum. 

2016 AWARD WINNER: DENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY - AFTER SCHOOL IS COOL

After School is Cool is a five-day-a-week program that enriches the lives of underserved Denver youth at five library locations: Athmar Park Branch Library, Green Valley Ranch Branch Library, Pauline Robinson Branch Library in Northeast Park Hill, Valdez-Perry Branch Library in Elyria-Swansea, and Westwood Branch Library. ASIC provides engaging activities that foster positive relationships for youth primarily ages 8-12. Targeting areas where children are at-risk, particularly during the critical after-school hours, ASIC programs encompass a wide range of arts, including visual art, music and dance, and incorporates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects. Programming is focused on creative expression and imagination. Activities are led by library staff and offered in collaboration with Denver-area artists.  After School is Cool at the Denver Public Library embodies the visions of IMAGINE 2020 -- regardless of age, income or education, people can find the educational offerings to help reach new heights as artistic and creative individuals, or experience something new and inspiring. ASIC art programming impacts youth by empowering them to find their creative voice, and fosters art as a means of constructive self-expression.

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ARTS & CULTURE IMPACT AWARD

This award is presented to an individual or an organization that has made a significant and lasting impact on arts and culture in the City and County of Denver. This category requires that the nominee have at least 10 years of history in the arts in the City and County of Denver. Nominees: Art for Ashes, cmDance, Denver Trolley, East Montclair Neighborhood Association, Huitzilopochtli Azteca Dance, John Madden Jr., Maria Mosina, Mile High Freedom Band, Play On! (DBA of Executive Arts, LLC), Tracy Weil and Jill Hadley Hooper, Visit Denver and VSA Colorado/Access Gallery.

2016 AWARD WINNER: HUITZILOPOCHTLI AZTECA DANCE

Every year Raul Chavez and Grupo Huitzilopochtli donate more than 600 volunteer hours to churches, food banks and nonprofits. They offer 50 free performances per year at schools and churches.  Through art and culture, Grupo Huitzilopochtli has contributed time and effort to enrich the lives of Mexican youth and their families. Bridging the gap between Mexican youth and Chicano/Colorado youth, this group has demonstrated for the past 40 years how the arts can heal through cultural inclusivity and respect for one another.

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ARTS & CULTURE INNOVATION AWARD

This award is presented to the individual or organization that is breaking new ground in the arts and whose contribution to innovation in the arts has been significant in 2016. Nominees: Downtown Denver Business Improvement District - Downtown Denver Partnership, East Montclair Neighborhood Association, Inside the Orchestra, Wendy Lesko - Bonnie Brae Alley Art, Dan Manzanares, Elisa Marizhnaya - Denver Online High School, The Playground Ensemble, Think 360 Arts for Learning, Warm Cookies of the Revolution and Western States Art Federation (WESTAF).

2016 AWARD WINNER: ELISA NARIZHNAYA - DENVER ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL

Many online schools fail to retain students because they feel isolated and alone.  Art teacher Elisa Narizhnaya of Denver Online High School continually finds innovative ways to establish a sense of community for her students. Elisa creates connections online and finds creative ways for her students to do artwork through digital processes or by sharing the art they’ve created through other means online. She then brings the art and students outside the virtual environment to participate in real-world experiences. She leads art projects during “Connection Days” (days when students connect with each other and their teachers), including an art exhibition at the Denver Art Society with a gallery viewing and celebration event. Elisa is committed to connecting the students to the school, to local organizations and businesses, and to each other by creating a sense of belonging. 

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ARTS & CULTURE GLOBAL AWARD

This award is presented to an individual or organization that has brought Denver’s arts and culture to the national or world stage. Nominees for this category have received national or international recognition through collaboration, media coverage, or grant dollars received. Nominees: Denver Young Artists Orchestra and PHAMALY.

2016 AWARD WINNER: DENVER YOUNG ARTISTS ORCHESTRA

The Denver Young Artists Orchestra (DYAO) works with young people in the Front Range area ages 7-23 in group string instrument classes and youth orchestra programs, providing high level music education and world-class opportunities for students to work with top teachers and coaches, offering accessible concerts to the community. More than 250 students are enrolled in DYAO programs -- no student is turned away due to financial circumstances. DYAO performs throughout the Denver metro area and beyond, providing thousands of free tickets each year for schools, social service groups and other under-served populations. In addition to large-scale orchestral concerts, DYAO performs hundreds of outreach concerts each year. From these outreach performances emerges the “Music Unexpected” program providing free, small ensemble performances in unexpected locations in the community such as a Home Depot lumber aisle or a sandwich shop in the Five Points neighborhood.

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IMAGINE 2020 AWARD

An individual or organization that exemplifies the vision and goals of Denver’s cultural plan through their programs and initiatives. This individual or organization is setting an example for others to aspire to as we IMAGINE 2020. Nominees: Dan Manzanares, Kayvan Khalatbari and WalkDenver Art of Colfax. 

2016 AWARD WINNER: DAN MANZANARES

Dan loves collaborating with Denver and Colorado-based individuals and organizations. With “Friday 500,” Lighthouse Writers Workshop's most well-attended member program, he has led writing workshops at the Clyfford Still Museum, Wonderbound, Leon Gallery and Arts Brookfield. Through Write Denver, a funding initiative of the Arts Affinity Group recognized as an IMAGINE 2020 Fund recipient and most recently the winner of the Colorado Art Tank grant, Dan has formed partnerships with the Denver VOICE, the American Museum of Western Art, Doors Open Denver, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Denver Public Library Central Branch, History Colorado and RedLine, and has taught writers and non-writers alike at the Denver Performing Arts Complex in the heart of Denver Theatre District. He has worked closely with the Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Art Students League of Denver's collaborative initiative, “Art + Lit,” “See & Say: A Symbiosis of Visual and Literary Art” and the “Write, I See” exhibitions. In 2015, he led a Denver Art Museum workshop during “Artful Aging: Through the Lens of Miró.” 

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CONTACT

For additional questions and information please contact Brooke Dilling: Brooke.Dilling@denvergov.org or 720-865-5558
Videos created by ZeroSun Creative
Photos by Steve Hostetler