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Dance the Vote Receives 2021 'What's Right with the Region' Award From FOCUS St. Louis

This is the second award Dance the Vote has been honored with this year for their creative efforts.

Dance the Vote Receives 2021 'What's Right with the Region' Award From FOCUS St. Louis

On May 13, Dance the Vote will be honored by FOCUS St. Louis' "What's Right with the Region Awards" for Fostering Creativity for Social Change.

Once a year, FOCUS St. Louis honors individuals, organizations and/or initiatives in the St. Louis region making positive change in the community with their "What's Right with the Region Awards Celebration." The event applauds those who are advancing the equity, prosperity, collaboration, and strength of our communities.

"With a record number of entries this year, our committee of volunteer judges certainly had their work cut out for them," says FOCUS President & CEO Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch. "We are so excited to shine a light on this year's honorees and the inspiring work they are doing in our region."

This is the second award Dance the Vote has been honored with this year for their creative efforts. In January, Dance the Vote received the inaugural IDEA Award from Mind's Eye for their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

"We are thrilled by this growing recognition of Dance the Vote and our use of the arts to promote awareness," said board member Sabrina Tyuse, an associate professor of public policy at St Louis University and the director of the St. Louis Voter Registration Group. "This also demonstrates what an initial small group of volunteers can accomplish and develop if they work together."

Dance the Vote was featured on "Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy", hosted by America Ferrera, Kerry Washington and Alicia Keys, produced by Global Citizen that was seen on CBS, BET and streamed on multiple international platforms, including Twitch, Amazon Music and Youtube. They were also featured in national publications including Dance Magazine and American Theatre.

It has been an extraordinarily busy time for Dance the Vote. Following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the realities of the pandemic, they pivoted to a virtual format and focused on commissioning filmed dance pieces primarily by choreographers of color in 2020. They then packaged these into ten weekly episodes of several pieces to focus on the theme of voting or issues that might compel someone to vote, including info on how to register to vote or report voting violations.

Dance the Vote also initiated a national competition with Webster University, "Why John Lewis Inspires Me to Vote,'' for college students in a variety of media. Other significant collaborations included creating a bi-lingual video on voting for people with disabilities for the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council, a music video with Vintage Vinyl to promote non-partisan voting in Georgia and participating in a postcard campaign in conjunction with the Coalition for the People's Agenda, the Transformative Justice Coalition and the Voting Rights Alliance. Currently, they are designing graphics to advise on voting deadlines to be used by multiple organizations, including the League of Women Voters, A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, among others.

Theatre artist and activist Joan Lipkin founded Dance the Vote in 2016 with a core group of women including Ashley L Tate, Anne Taussig and Sabrina Tyuse and is thrilled by the growth of the project and people's interest in it.

'Our team is grateful to be recognized by FOCUS St. Louis, along with such an impressive group of individuals and organizations committed to making a difference in our community. Access to voting is a fundamental right and the foundation of democracy. The arts are a natural pathway to help educate and encourage the public to embrace active citizenship," she said.

FOCUS St. Louis will also recognize an individual who demonstrates meaningful leadership in the community with the FOCUS Leadership Award. This year's nominees include Constance Gully and Michael McMillan. The recipients of this prestigious award are selected by the FOCUS Board of Directors.

The Awards Celebration will be held virtually on Thursday, May 13, 2021 beginning at 5pm. Tickets can be purchased online through FOCUS' website, found here: https://www.focus-stl.org/events/24th-annual-whats-right-with-the-region-awards/. Early bird pricing will continue through March 31.


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