Mayor Hancock announces Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture

Nov 18 2015

In the spirit of IMAGINE 2020, Denver’s cultural plan, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Arts & Venues and the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs are pleased to announce the 2015 recipients of the Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture.

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. The awards were announced today at a reception and presentation at the Studio Loft in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House located within the historic Denver Performing Arts Complex.

“Denver is so proud of those who contribute so much to our thriving creative economy and cultural vitality,” Mayor Hancock said. “Arts and culture continue to shape our great city into the vibrant, diverse community that it is. That contribution to the progress of our city deserves recognition and gratitude.”

Five awards were chosen by a panel of former award winners and members of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs. Two “people’s choice awards” were voted on by the general public. Awards were designed by local artist, Victoria Eubanks. 

Panel-selected awards:

Youth Arts & Culture Award – Jimmy Bruenger
Jimmy Bruenger is an actor at the Denver School of the Arts (DSA) with lead performances as Link in “Hairspray,” Lefou in “Beauty and the Beast” and as Hanschen in the musical “Spring Awakening.” A senior at DSA, his peers have elected him as the thespian/theatre department president. In the 2016 spring semester, Jimmy will be choreographing the eighth grade production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” Additionally, Jimmy raises funds and awareness for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the local charity Denver Actor’s Fund. He spearheaded the fundraising campaign and helped to raise $2,000 for each charity. This year he plans to support a local group that assists teens who are in abusive situations.

Arts & Culture Impact Award – Brenda Tierney
Brenda Tierney serves as a public art manager for the Regional Transportation District (RTD). In rail construction projects, she is responsible for liaising between engineers, contractors and the public during design and construction. 21 years ago Brenda created the Art-n-Transit program, which she continues to manage today. Starting in 1994 working in the Central Rail Line construction project, the first light rail line in Denver, she listened to the impacted community as they requested public art at their new stations. With no RTD funding for artwork, she formed a non-profit corporation and started fundraising. Over the next five years, enough money was raised to install the first five artworks. By the end of 2016, even with no formal program or funding for artwork at RTD, the collection will have grown to 70 pieces.

Arts & Culture Innovation Award – Phamaly Theatre Company and Lone Tree Arts Center
On June 16, 2015, Phamaly Theatre Company and the Lone Tree Arts Center co-presented Denver’s first Sensory Friendly Summit. Held at the Lone Tree Arts Center, the goal of the summit was to lay the groundwork to make Denver the most sensory friendly community in America by creating a network of organizations committed to welcoming a much-neglected population through their doors. Sensory friendly programming is designed for individuals with autism, sensory processing disorders, or other intellectual or developmental disabilities, and their families. Sensory friendly programs may include simple changes to productions and performances to make these encounters accessible and enjoyable for patrons. Sensory friendly programs take place in a judgment-free environment where all are welcome without the fear of disturbing others.

Global Arts & Culture Award – Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
The Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave, located in Denver’s Lookout Mountain Park, has provided a context for Denver’s western heritage since 1921. As part of the Denver Mountain Parks system, the site was a popular destination before William “Buffalo Bill” Cody requested to be buried here in 1917. Every year hundreds of thousands of visitors pay homage to Cody, one of the most legendary and visionary personalities in American history. Beyond Cody’s historic grave and view, this is a world-class museum filled with rare and authentic relics interpreting Cody’s life. The museum’s mission is to preserve and interpret “the life and times” of Buffalo Bill. Cody lived during a transformative era of America’s history and this is reflected in educational exhibits.

NEW – IMAGINE 2020 Award (two recipients) – Hope Tank; RedLine Contemporary Art Center
Hope Tank is a social enterprise boutique where many items sold are created by local artists, and benefit a different charity. Purchasable items come with information on the supported charity giving recipients the knowledge of the impacted organization. Hope Tank supports local talent, and through their partnership, they educate and inspire everyone who shops in the store to act for the betterment of our society. 

RedLine Contemporary Art Center fosters engagement between artists and communities to create positive social change. The nonprofit organization strives for artistic excellence while viewing art as a vehicle for strengthening neighborhoods and civic engagement. With its dynamic physical space, talented resident artists and proximity to some of Denver’s most culturally diverse areas, RedLine Contemporary Art Center is a place where all forms of creative expression are celebrated and integrated into the fabric of the community. 

People’s Choice Awards:

Unique Collaborations – Phamaly Theatre Company and Lone Tree Arts Center
On June 16, 2015, Phamaly Theatre Company and the Lone Tree Arts Center co-presented Denver’s first Sensory Friendly Summit. Held at the Lone Tree Arts Center, the goal of the summit was to lay the groundwork to make Denver the most sensory friendly community in America by creating a network of organizations committed to welcoming a much-neglected population through their doors. Sensory friendly programming is designed for individuals with autism, sensory processing disorders, or other intellectual or developmental disabilities, and their families. Sensory friendly programs may include simple changes to productions and performances to make these encounters accessible and enjoyable for patrons. Sensory friendly programs take place in a judgment-free environment where all are welcome without the fear of disturbing others.

In-School Arts – Shawn Hann – Denver School of the Arts 
Shawn Hann has been teaching since 1994 and has been the chair of the Department of Theatre at Denver School of the Arts since 2001. Hann sees 160 unique theatre artists from sixth to twelfth grade every day. Believing that theatre “is a time capsule”, Hann starts her casts by first educating them on the time period, the economics, the social world, the political world, art and architecture of the time, and religion. This process not only helps to educate the cast about the world around them, but also creates a basis for character building and development from a real, genuine place. Hann’s directorial research doesn’t stop at the actors, either. She works extensively with the production designers to create an accurate world on-stage from color palate, all the way down to the geometrical patterns on the wall paper.

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