The St. Louis Visionary Awards honor women for their excellence, passion and advocacy for the arts in St. Louis. The six honorees in 2017 include a playwright, dance teacher, poet, philanthropist, community arts trainer and photographer. These extraordinary women will be celebrated in a special ceremony from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, April 24, 2017 at The Sun Theater in Grand Center (3625 Grandel Square, 63103). For more information visit www.vizawards.org.

Outstanding Working Artist

Shirley Bradley LeFlore

Shirley Bradley LeFlore is an internationally recognized poet, playwright, author, performance artist and educator who also has been a trailblazer in community arts, especially as a member of the Black Arts Group of St. Louis.

During a career that has spanned five decades, she has performed for audiences throughout the world and her work has been published to critical acclaim in numerous books, anthologies and magazines. Shirley is equally recognized for her vision as a creative collaborator with dancers and visual artists and is known for blending the vocal texture of her poetry with music giants from jazz, blues, gospel and classical music.

Outstanding Emerging Artist.

Kat Simone Reynolds

Kat Simone Reynolds shows relentless dedication as a photographer who leads her audiences into unexpected spaces in order to challenge perceptions. Her work has been described as conceptual storytelling through portrait and architectural photography. Adept at capturing her subjects’ emotional states, Kat creates an intimacy even from a distance. Themes in her work cover a broad range, including everything from black female depression to the superwoman complex. Her photographs have been shown at fort gondo, Beverly, Museum Blue and have been featured in Alive Magazine and various blogs.

Community Impact Artist

Regina Martinez

Regina Martinez is dedicated to changing St. Louis one art initiative at a time. With a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism and a master’s degree in social work, Regina combines her passions for art and social justice. As the Artistic Director of the Pink House, a community arts space in Pagedale, she organizes arts classes and special events designed to transform the lives of residents and create a cohesive community. Regina is a graduate of the Community Arts Training Institute and the Institute’s Graduate Education and Research programs through the Regional Arts Commission.

Outstanding Arts Professional

Nancy Bell

Nancy Bell, the playwright in residence for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, tells stories about our neighborhoods through the eyes of the bard. As author of “Shakespeare in the Street,” Nancy has conversations with residents, business leaders and artists from a single neighborhood. Based on themes that emerge, she adapts one of Shakespeare’s plays to be performed in that neighborhood by a mix of professional actors and community members. In 2013 she was awarded the St. Louis Theatre Circle Award for Outstanding New Play for this program. Nancy also wrote “Tales of Shakespeare” for children and families which was performed at Powell Hall in partnership with the Saint Louis Symphony. An accomplished actor with credits on national television shows and theatrical performances throughout the country, Nancy also is an assistant professor of theatre at Saint Louis University

Outstanding Teaching Artist

Vivian Anderson Watt

As a dance teacher at Better Family Life and choreographer for Gitana, Inc., for the past 43 years, Vivian Anderson Watt has trained more than 50,000 at-risk and underserved young people. Her dynamic talent is matched by an unimpeachable belief that through the discipline and teamwork required in dance, all students can flourish, no matter what their backgrounds. Vivian is proud to have trained many successful dancers and dance teachers including a protégé who performed with Beyoncé and on the television show Empire. Her students have performed regionally in cross-cultural collaborations and in shows at the MUNY, the Contemporary Art Museum, Powell Hall and the St. Louis International Salsa Congress.

Major Contributors to the Arts

Sally S. Levy

Thanks to her vision and generosity, Sally Levy has made a critical impact on Opera Theatre Saint Louis (OTSL). With her support, OTSL opened the Sally S. Levy Opera Center, providing space for administrative, rehearsal and community outreach needs. She and her family later created a fund to endow master classes with distinguished artists who cultivate young people in the field. Most recently, she established the Sally S. Levy Family Fund for New Works, allowing the organization to produce contemporary operas that will shape the future of opera for 21st century audiences. Sally has been honored with the National Trustee Opera Recognition Award from OPERA America and the Excellence in Philanthropy Arts Awards from the Arts and Education Council.

The 2017 St. Louis Visionary Awards Planning Committee is co-chaired by Sara Burke and Kim Eberlein; members include Susan Block, Adrienne Davis, Alison Ferring, Renee Franklin, Diane Kline, Marian Nunn, Emily Pitts, Cynthia Prost and Marilyn Sheperd.

The Presenting Sponsors of the 2017 St. Louis Visionary Awards are the Steward Family Foundation and the Centene Charitable Foundation. V

Via Press Release