Announcing AMM 2019 Award Recipients

Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

Pictured Left to Right: Jody Blankenship, Jennifer Scott, Bruce Karstadt, Kate Kocienski, Emily Reusswig, Greg Wittkopp, Kate Wolters, John Shannon, Tamara Hemmerlein, and Charity Counts

Best Practices Award: Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN

The Heritage Support Grants Program of the Indiana Historical Society addresses the needs of Indiana’s local, county, and regional historical societies, museums, and sites. This grant program works to help these organizations be better stewards of the cultural materials in their care through grants and workshops.

Grants are available for history-related projects and workshops provide education on fundraising. Each organization is assigned a coach to help them by providing resources and feedback, reviewing applications, and serving as a neutral ally. Over 4 years, HSG has offered 11 grant cycles and awarded $2,632,747 through 173 awards to 101 different organizations in 57 of the 92 counties. Additionally, fundraising education opportunities served 404 staff and volunteers with 40 workshops covering grant-writing, building a case for support, annual funds, fundraising events, and more. The program’s educational opportunities encourage innovative new methods and ideas and creative application of national standards and best practices. Similarly workshop topics have evolved to focus on more advanced concepts based on the needs expressed by participants such as Planning and Implementing Building Projects, Board Roles in Fundraising, Historic Structures Reports, and Members as Donors. 

The Indiana Historical Society Heritage Support Grants Program strengthens organizational capacity, uniquely adapts to its audiences, and contributes to the professional field. It has proved a major source of financial aid and has successfully encouraged sustainability, professionalism, and community impact for these organizations that care for so much of the state’s history. 

Promising Leadership Award: Emily Reusswig, Chicago Cultural Alliance, Chicago, IL

Reusswig joined the Chicago Cultural Alliance as Executive Director in early 2015 and has led the creation of a number of successful programs and initiatives including Inherit Chicago, a citywide intercultural festival of art, ideas and performance that increases awareness of and engagement in regional cultural heritage centers. Under her leadership, CCA has grown significantly, becoming an alliance of 41 Chicago-area heritage museums, cultural centers and historical societies that spans 24 neighborhoods and seven suburbs, representing 28 different cultures from around the world.

Over the years, she has been successful in making true improvements to Chicago’s cultural arena. Emily’s major accomplishments include increasing awareness of neighborhood based cultural heritage centers, connecting more cultural heritage institutions to funding and opportunities in the region, stabilizing and doubling the Chicago Cultural Alliance in just three years and creating banner initiatives that amplify cultural heritage in Chicago. 

Before joining CCA, Emily worked as Development Director of the place-based spectacle company, Redmoon, and Executive Director of The Inconvenience, a multi-disciplinary arts syndicate. Emily’s work focuses on how arts and culture can create healthier, more equitable communities in Chicago, specifically centering on strategic collaboration and the activation of existing neighborhood spaces – whether in parks, cultural centers, or community spaces. 

Distinguished Career Award: Bruce Karstadt, American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, MN

Bruce Karstadt has been the President & CEO of The American Swedish Institute (ASI) in Minneapolis since 1990. He has served as the Honorary Consul General of Sweden for the State of Minnesota since 2003. Bruce is currently the President of the Minnesota Consular Corps and is an active member of several boards. He was an organizing chair of the City of Minneapolis delegation to form a sister city relationship between Minneapolis and Uppsala, Sweden in 2000. In June 2019, he facilitated and led a significant delegation to Sweden – in conjunction with the Minnesota Trade Office – that focused on Smart Cities, circular economy initiatives, and environmental sustainability. Bruce has received several honors including the Medal of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, by order of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and the Swedish American of the Year Award from the Vasa Order of America.

Bruce’s many awards highlight what is perhaps his most significant contribution to the field: his vision for expanding the potential of ethnically-specific, cultural organizations, as well as the successful application of that vision. In 2012, the American Swedish Institute completed a major campus expansion with the opening of the Carl and Leslie Nelson Cultural Center. This new cultural center, together with ASI’s original headquarters, the historic Turnblad Mansion, have become a popular destination for visitors to the Twin Cities, who are drawn by its blend of historic and contemporary design. Through his leadership, Bruce has transformed ASI into a cultural center of international reputation, which invites all people to gather to connect their pasts to their shared future, to understand their heritage in relation to others, and to discover their role as neighbors and global citizens.

Corporate Achievement Award: Guardian Fine Art Services, Milwaukee, WI

John Shannon  is a champion of a diverse assortment of art projects, from publishing artist books through his company Plumb Press to providing support to local dance, opera, and music companies to underwriting the new Jan Serr Studio at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This dedication to the arts brought Shannon to renovate the 1635 Building, where he is Founder and Managing Director of Guardian Fine Art Services and a private museum, The Warehouse.

The 1635 Building project was a ground-to-roof renovation of a five-story, 74,000 s.f. former plumbing distribution facility built in 1924 that sat abandoned for more than 20 years. It now houses Shannon’s  Guardian Fine Art Services, which provides museum quality climate-controlled storage and support services to museums, galleries, artists, and private collectors in Milwaukee, Chicago and elsewhere. An avid art collector, Shannon purchased the 1635 Building to not only create Guardian, but to also open a private museum. On the ground floor of the 1635 Building, The Warehouse art museum is open to the public, hosting art exhibitions, dance performances, and local arts and business groups for events. 

This significant investment in the historic 1635 Building has helped bring new life to a neglected block played an integral role in the Design District’s success. 

Changing Expectations Award: DisArt, Grand Rapids, MI

In the spirit of the 2019 Joint Conference theme, the AMM Awards Committee has decided to extend a special award to a Michigan-based organization that is changing expectations in their hometown, particularly in the areas of diversity and inclusion. 

DisArt is an arts and culture organization that has set the standard for inclusive practices with its commitment towards increasing the participation of disabled people in Grand Rapids through curated art exhibitions, cutting-edge public events, and organizational coaching. DisArt’s transformative work can be seen in thought-provoking exhibits and events such as Process and Presence: Fashion Show and the installation at the Tanglefoot Building during Project 1 by ArtPrize. DisArt has also organized educational lectures for local businesses and advised museums across the city, including Grand Rapids Public Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.