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In the spirit of IMAGINE 2020 -- Denver’s cultural plan -- Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Arts & Venues and the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs are pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture.

Presented annually since 1986, the Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture recognize individuals and organizations that make significant and lasting contributions to the arts in the City and County of Denver.

"Seven years ago, we asked Denver residents to envision the cultural landscape of the city through our IMAGINE 2020 cultural plan,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. "Now, on the precipice of 2020, we celebrate the organizations and individuals who have brought us ever closer to realizing that vision.”

Five award-winners were honored at a luncheon on where they were presented with artwork created by artists from Access Gallery. Additionally, each award winner received a $1,000 stipend to continue their great work in Denver’s cultural sector.

During the luncheon, Mayor Hancock also announced the winner of the IMAGINE 2020 District Challenge: a competition between City Councilmembers to best infuse arts and culture into their district during Denver Arts Week.

Raquel Garcia is well known in the community for her amazing voice and her kindness towards the people and organizations she works with. At only 13 years old, she has performed on some of the most important stages Colorado. Hard working and very passionate about music, she enjoys helping the community in every way she can. Through outreach and fundraising programs, she has supported older adults, people with disabilities and women who have experienced domestic violence. At her young age, she is already a host of her own television show on Estrella TV and radio show on La Invasora 87.7 FM. She has also started a philanthropic organization helping women in El Salvador start their careers.

Involvement in the arts has been a life-long commitment for Lisa Engelken. With Backyard Sessions and Breaking Barriers, Engelken continues her commitment to creating platforms that bring unlikely groups of people together. Backyard Sessions is a multimedia artist showcase and community event platform for local poets, musicians and dancers to build new audiences and create engagement around social issues. Engelken’s Breaking Barriers project builds community through the fusion of theatre and street dance culture.

ARTS & CULTURE IMPACT AWARD – Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD) is entering its 50th year as a treasured Denver cultural institution. In its lifetime, CPRD has developed into an internationally esteemed organization that operates beyond the traditional performing arts model. CPRD believes that cross-cultural exchange through dance can lead to healthier, happier, more inclusive communities. The organization strives to be the epicenter for this exchange in Denver through performance, life-long learning experiences and celebration of movement for all people. In philosophy and practice, inclusive programming is an operational principle embedded in the organization since inception. For nearly a half century, CPRD has welcomed and celebrated multicultural perspectives and developed programs that emphasize artistic excellence and civic engagement.

ARTS & CULTURE GLOBAL AWARD – Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s debut collection of short stories, “Sabrina & Corina,” brings light to the often overlooked stories of Colorado Latinas of Indigenous descent, with narratives set against the backdrop of Denver. Chosen as the Kweli International Literary Festival keynote speaker presented by the New York Times, Fajardo-Anstine has also been featured in the Boston Globe, New York Times, Bustle Magazine, MS Magazine, Westword, 5280 Magazine and many more. Her book, “Sabrina & Corina,” is on the short list for National Book Award.

IMAGINE 2020 AWARD – Mark Sink
Mark Sink is an arts activist who strives to bring community together through photography. Sink founded Month of Photography Denver, Big Picture Colorado and Denver Collage Club, and co-founded The Festival of Light. He is also a founding board member of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA Denver) and RedLine Contemporary Art Center. Month of Photography Denver is presented biannually in conjunction with other cities around the globe, with more than 250 public and free educational events which connect museums, galleries and schools. The Big Picture brings contemporary fine art photography outside the gallery through large-scale murals. The Festival of Light connects more than 20 worldwide photography festivals, joining the photographic technologies of the 19th and 20th centuries with the communication systems of the 21st century.

IMAGINE 2020 DISTRICT CHALLENGE WINNER – Jamie Torres (City Council District 3) and Robin Kniech (At Large)
Councilwomen Torres and Kniech partnered with Su Teatro, Museo de las Americas, Colorado Ballet, CHAC, NEWSED Development Corporation and Santa Fe Business Improvement District, as well as Art District on Santa Fe and General Consul of Mexico, to present First Friday/Dia de los Muertos Celebration during which visitors were able to participate in Dia de los Muertos activities during the First Friday art walk including mariachis, community altars, face painting, sugar skulls, special performance from Colorado Ballet and a traditional procession on Santa Fe Drive.

For more on these and past winners, including videos highlighting their accomplishments, please visit: ArtsandVenues.com.