Wilmette residents Tim Meier and Helen Coburn Meier today released the names of their 4th Arts Achievement Awards. The Meiers annually recognize Chicago-based artists in mid-career who are pushing the artistic envelope. The Meiers also seek to recognize those artists who make significant community contributions through their work. “We give these gifts at Thanksgiving because we want to thank artists for their contributions,” according to Helen. The 2009 awardees are Homer Hans Bryant, the artistic director of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center; Elizabeth Doyle, cabaret artist and composer; and Hallie Gordon, director of Steppenwolf Theatre for Young Adults.
Elizabeth Doyle is a cabaret artist and composer. “We are rewarding Elizabeth for her creativity and spark and pushing her artistic boundaries by composing new musicals, including Sleepy Hollow, performed at Theatre Hikes, and a new musical now in workshop, The White City,” according to Helen. Elizabeth is a past recipient of the Chicago After Dark award. More information about Elizabeth Doyle at www.elizabethdole.com.
Homer Hans Bryant is artistic director of Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. Bryant trains adults and youth in ballet, jazz, modern, musical theatre, African, hip-hop, Latin, and tap. The Meiers became convinced Bryant should be an awardee after seeing a student recital. “I saw a 1 1/2 hour recital of 32 Dance Camp students alone and with the 30 Youth Pre-professionals,” says Mrs. Meier. “The level of dance was way, way above a student recital. His emphasis is discipline, focus, and commitment. If a student comes in grumpy, without a smile, he has to drop and do 5 pushups.” More information about Mr. Bryant at www.cmcd.org.
Hallie Gordon is Director of Steppenwolf for Young Adults and Artistic Director for The Chicago Park District’s Theater on the Lake. The Meiers say, “We admire her program at Steppenwolf. Hallie works with a Young Adult Council of high school students, who read and discuss the plays under consideration. After consulting with a group of teachers, she prepares a training program and a study guide. Under her direction, she has brought to life such works as Huckleberry Finn, The Bluest Eye (directed by Ms. Gordon) and the House on Mango Street, all part of the student literature. She also produced a version of Of Mice and Men, directed by 2008 Meier awardee Michael Patrick Thornton.” For more information about Hallie Gordon, see http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/bio.aspx?id=281&crewId=202.
The Meier Achievement Award
The Meier Arts Achievement Award is a cash gift of $24,000 recognizing the past achievements of the artists. Artists are nominated by others and the awards are a surprise. Past recipients include:
Jim Lasko, founding artistic director, Redmoon Theatre and present City of Chicago Artist in Residence
James Bohnen, co-founder and Artistic Director, Remy Bummpo Theatre
Meade Palidofsky, founder and Artistic Director, StoryCatchers Theatre (formerly Music Theatre Workshop)
Patty McKenny (deceased), song lyricist, musical book & lyricist; founder of Chicago
Musical Theatre Works (deceased)
John Eskola, tenor, cabaret artist
Mark Messing, Composer, founder of Mucca Pazzo gypsy marching band
P.J. Powers, founder and Artistic Director, TimeLine Theatre
Michael Patrick Thorton, founder and Artistic Director, Gift Theater