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Missouri Arts Awards

Announcing the 2016 Missouri Arts Awards Honorees

Since 1983, the Missouri Arts Council and the State of Missouri have been honoring our state's arts heroes—the people who make the arts happen. The annual Missouri Arts Awards celebrate people, organizations, and communities that have made profound and lasting contributions to the cultural and artistic climate of the state. Honorees are selected by an independent panel in six categories: Arts Education, Arts Organization, Creative Community, Individual Artist, Leadership in the Arts, and Philanthropy.

The 2016 Missouri Arts Awards will be presented in a public ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City on February 10, 2016. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. From noon to 12:45 p.m., there will be a performance, sponsored by Missouri Citizens for the Arts, by the St. Joseph Community Chorus. The performance and the ceremony are free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

These are the 2016 honorees:

• Arts Education: Halcyone Ewalt Perlman, Columbia
Dancer, teacher, director, and choreographer who for more than five decades has taught, inspired, and created original works for thousands of students from across Missouri and beyond through her Perlman-Stoy School of Ballet and its performing wing, Mid-Missouri Dance Theatre

• Arts Organization: STAGES St. Louis
Musical theatre company every year producing Broadway-quality shows for 50,000 patrons, educating thousands of students at its Performing Arts Academy, employing hundreds of professionals from actors to designers, and reaching out via programs such as its Urban Arts Initiative and Access the Arts

• Creative Community: Community of Chillicothe
North central regional hub with a flourishing community of artists, art lovers, nonprofit organizations, and businesses that partner to create resources such as 20 huge outdoor murals, the Sliced Bread Jam Bluegrass Festival, Chautauqua in the Park, and an upcoming downtown arts center

• Individual Artist: John L. Schaefer, Kansas City
Organist and director of the vocal and handbell choirs of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral since 1976, who also brings music to the entire community by creating concerts with local, national, and international musicians and by supporting the arts as a mentor, board member, philanthropist, and writer

• Leadership in the Arts: Jo Mueller, Joplin
Executive director 2003-2015 of the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts who transformed the center into a vibrant, accessible cultural anchor for the region and an engine for economic development and better quality of life with year-round exhibitions, events, and hands-on education programs for all ages

No award for Philanthropy is being presented in 2016.


2016 Signature Image and Glass Artists 

The painting Portrait of a Musician by Thomas Hart Benton is the signature image of the 2016 Missouri Arts Awards. The image will be featured on the poster, the invitation to the awards ceremony, and the program for the ceremony.

Recipients of the Missouri Arts Awards receive a handcrafted artwork created by a Missouri artist working in glass. The 2016 honorees will receive art by Chris McCarthy, Park Avenue Glass, St. Louis.

Thomas Hart Benton:  Designer, painter, and muralist Thomas Hart Benton was chosen as the artist of the signature image for the Missouri Arts Awards taking place during the Missouri Arts Council’s 50th anniversary year because he is the state’s best-known artist and one of the preeminent creative minds of the entire 20th century. His contribution to the arts exemplifies the spirit of the Missouri Arts Awards.  Portrait of a Musician directly references the arts, portrays a Missouri musician (a jazz bass player in Kansas City), and is displayed in a public Missouri location, the Museum of Art and Archaeology in Columbia. Thomas Hart Benton was born and grew up in Neosho in southwestern Missouri in 1889. He studied in Chicago and Paris, and worked in New York City until 1935, when he returned to Missouri. He lived and worked in Kansas City until his death in 1975. His home and studio are a state historic site

Chris McCarthy (parkavenueglass.com):  Chris McCarthy started blowing glass in 1987 at Washington University in St. Louis while receiving a business degree. He joined his family’s portrait business and helped run it until his family sold the business in 1999. During that time, he would volunteer on the weekends at the City Museum and would do the demonstrations in the glass studio for the public. After the portrait business was sold, he made the switch from part-time to full-time glass artist and opened the Park Avenue Glass Studio in early 2003. His work is a complex mix of both the hot and cold side of the glass medium. Fascinated with the ability to play with fire to create form, he sculpts each piece, thinking about the effect of light and diffraction. His use of the Venetian design elements of Murrini, Incalmo and Battuto gives his work depth and complexity. He creates simple, elegant forms that radiate and glow with warmth.


More About the 2016 Missouri Arts Awards Honorees

Arts Education: Halcyone Ewalt Perlman, Columbia
For more than five decades, dancers from mid-Missouri and beyond have enjoyed not only superlative ballet training but lessons in respect, discipline, focus, confidence, and teamwork with Halcyone Ewalt Perlman, artistic director of the Perlman-Stoy School of Ballet. Ms. Perlman was raised in Columbia in her parents’ dance studio. She began her dance studies at age 14 with luminaries such as Alexandra Danilova and Joan Hewson. She also became an accomplished cellist, and her musicality is at the core of her teaching.  Upon her mother’s death in 1967, Ms. Perlman assumed leadership of the school. One of her former students, Nancy Stoy, now works with her as associate director. The school offers classes from creative movement for young children, through training for aspiring professionals, to ballet for adults. The public concerts of the school’s performing wing, Mid-Missouri Dance Theatre, are full-flown performances with original works crafted to both showcase and challenge the students by guest choreographers and Ms. Perlman herself. Ms. Perlman further enriches the community through collaborations with the Missouri Symphony Society, Columbia Art League and more. Ms. Perlman’s thousands of students hail her as a peerless artist and educator. “Her commitment to quality and beauty, and her investment in the physical, emotional, and artistic development of her students,” said Ariel Bruback, now a teacher herself, “are truly exceptional.”

Arts Organization: STAGES St. Louis
In 2016, STAGES St. Louis celebrates its 30th season of Broadway-quality productions of musical theatre. STAGES presents 144 performances every year to nearly 50,000 patrons via its mainstage shows and Theatre for Young Audiences. Since STAGES opened in 1987, the company has performed 102 musicals for more than one million people. Audiences come from 238 cities in 30 states. STAGES educates thousands of students annually at its year-round Performing Arts Academy. No qualifying student is ever turned away for financial need. STAGES also sends teaching artists to schools and youth organizations throughout the region. The Urban Arts Initiative provides workshops, semester-long classes, and residencies to underserved schools and community centers. Access the Arts serves children with special needs. In 2015 STAGES produced Missouri’s first sensory-friendly performance for children on the autism spectrum or with other sensitivity conditions. Other programs are Broadway Master Classes, Spotlight on Careers Apprenticeships, Stories@STAGES, and the traveling student groups TeamSTAGES, Triple Threats, and Troupe Broadway. In August 2015, STAGES produced its first original work, a musical revue. The show was the first fruit of STAGES’ new American Musical Creative dedicated to creating new musicals and fostering the next generation of actors, designers, and directors.

Creative Community: Community of Chillicothe 
Nearly 9,500 people live at the crossroads of U.S. Routes 65 and 36 in the rolling farmlands of north central Missouri in Chillicothe, the county seat of Livingston County and a regional hub. Founded in 1837, Chillicothe boomed after the Civil War. In 1928, the city made international industrial history when the Chillicothe Barking Company took a chance on a newly invented machine; Chillicothe has been “the home of sliced bread” ever since. The city’s heritage shines in events like the Sliced Bread Jam Bluegrass Festival and Main Street Chillicothe’s ongoing program of huge outdoor murals (now numbering 20) by local artist Kelly William Poling. Assets such as the June Art Walk, the free summer concert series Tunes Under the Moon, the Chillicothe Area Community Choir, the North Central Missouri Writers Guild, and the Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center draw together artists and audiences from all over north Missouri. People from more than 150 communities attend events by the Chillicothe Area Arts Council, including performances, exhibits, school residencies, and the two-day Chautauqua in the Park festival. The new Cultural Corner–Art Guild & Gallery provides a raft of hands-on arts activities for all ages, and in spring 2016 will open a downtown building that it is renovating for classrooms and gallery space. 

Individual Artist: John L. Schaefer, Kansas City
Ohio native John Louis Schaefer came to Kansas City in 1976 to lead the music ministry of the city’s Episcopal Cathedral, Grace and Holy Trinity. As organist and choirmaster, he directs the handbell choir and the four vocal choirs. During the past 40 years he has not only performed as a consummate musician and built a renowned program for the worship services, but has also nurtured music for the entire city. Mr. Schaefer has spearheaded the Cathedral’s development into a welcoming venue for manifold performances ranging from Bachathon by the American Guild of Organists to The Nativity by Paul Mesner Puppets, as well as workshops, rehearsals, student recitals, and special events. He founded and coordinates the Cathedral’s own Organ Series and Summer Music Series. He volunteers with several groups including the Friends of Chamber Music and Harriman-Jewell Artists Series. He mentors musicians from students to seasoned professionals. Since 1989, he has been Chapel Organist at Park University in Parkville. He advocates for upcoming local performances in his widely read weekly email, Invitation and Recommendation.  As summed up by Indiana University Doctoral Fellow Stewart Duncan, John Schaefer is “a man gifted in his craft…with the kind of passionate, driven spirit that seeks to share that excellence and inspire others to do likewise.” 

Leadership in the Arts: Jo Mueller, Joplin
During her 2003-2015 tenure as executive director of the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin, Jo Mueller metamorphosed the Center into a leading force for the power of the arts. People in the four-state region now have opportunities and experiences that did not exist before she took the helm. Spiva was founded in 1947 to foster performing, literary, and most especially visual arts. Ms. Mueller created a slew of new showcases for artists. She invigorated community awareness and support for the Center. She ramped up educational programming and made it accessible to all. She developed a library/public meeting room, a gift shop, an archived permanent collection, and three year-round galleries, including the Regional Gallery for local artists. She multiplied the number and variety of hands-on art classes. She built collaborations with organizations from Pro Musica to the Lafayette House Domestic Violence Center. She swung Spiva into action after the 2011 tornado with programming that helped the community heal through art. Beyond Spiva’s walls, Ms. Mueller has given her talents to Connect2Culture, the Chamber of Commerce’s Cultural Affairs Committee, the Joplin Public Library, Main Street Joplin and more. She is a strong public voice for the arts’ role in the region’s economic development and quality of life.


Choosing the Honorees

The Missouri Arts Awards honorees are selected by an independent panel of distinguished representatives of the arts community from throughout the state. These are the panelists who selected the 2016 honorees:

  • Cynthia Cartwright, chair, Kansas City | vice chair of the Missouri Arts Council and Trust Board
  • Sharon Gray, St. Joseph | vocal arts teacher and arts volunteer
  • Kristi Kittleson, Springfield | program coordinator, Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies
  • Karen Millsap, Mt. Vernon | president, Mt. Vernon Regional Arts Council (2013 Arts Organization Award)
  • J.J. Musgrove, Columbia | director, City of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs
  • Gerry Welch, Webster Groves | mayor, City of Webster Groves (2013 Creative Community Award)
  • Peter Witte, Kansas City | dean, University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance (2014 Arts Organization Award)

For a list by last names in alphabetical order of all Missouri Arts Awards recipients, click here. For a list by year, click here.


Special Thanks
Governor Jeremiah (Jay) W. Nixon and First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon
Missouri Department of Economic Development
Missouri Office of Administration

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