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2005 Recipients

Individual Achievement
Given for overall excellence in the body of work by an artist, humanist or interpretive scientist.

Laurie Kahn-Leavitt
Laurie Kahn-Leavitt; photo by Josh TousterFilmmaker Laurie Kahn-Leavitt’s work highlights the lives of people whose stories are seldom told on screen. Her film TUPPERWARE! explores the creation of the plastic product, the company, the marketing phenomenon and the enduring icon. The film is filled with humor, yet also raises profound questions about gender, class, and the growth of consumer culture after World War II. TUPPERWARE! was nominated for a prime time Emmy for Best Direction and won the Banff International Television Festival Award for Best History/Biography Program.

Ms. Kahn-Leavitt also conceived of, wrote, and produced the film A Midwife’s Tale. The film is based on the diary of the18th-century midwife Martha Ballard, which was adapted by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. In 1998, the film opened the tenth season of the PBS series American Experience and won numerous awards at film festivals, as well as an Emmy. Ms. Kahn-Leavitt is currently a Visiting Scholar at The Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, where she is planning a series of films exploring the history of women in America.

Tim Chan Thou
Tim Thou, 2005 Commonwealth Award Winner for Individual Achievement; photo by Andy BrilliantTim Chan Thou, founder and artistic director of Angkor Dance Troupe, learned Cambodian folk dance and became certified as a folk dance instructor in a refugee camp along the Thai-Cambodian border. He was 21 when he arrived at Khao-I-Dang, traumatized by his wartime experiences in Khmer Rouge work camps and by the deaths of his parents and four siblings. For Mr. Thou, teaching traditional Cambodian dance became a way to keep part of his heritage alive. He went on to teach and dance at the Philippine Refugee Center before immigrating to the U.S. in 1982.

Mr. Thou brought to the U.S. a passion to carry on and develop traditional Cambodian dance, to perform, to teach others, and to see the traditions preserved for future generations of people of all cultures. In 1986, he and another teacher founded the Angkor Dance Troupe. Today, the Troupe is one of the most respected Cambodian dance ensembles in the country, with several highly qualified master teachers and more than forty students.

Given to an individual, organization, corporation or foundation that has taken the lead in giving time, energy, expertise and/or funds to help build a central place for the arts, humanities and sciences in Massachusetts.

Michael Maso
Michael MasoMichael Maso has served as the Huntington Theatre Company’s Managing Director since 1982, overseeing all fiscal and administrative operations, producing more than 120 plays, and leading the Huntington’s ten-year drive to build the new Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Mr. Maso is President of the League of Resident Theatres, an association of 70 of the country’s major not-for-profit professional theatres. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group, the national service organization for not-for-profit theatre, and as a site visitor, panelist, and panel chair for the National Endowment for the Arts. In June 2000, Mr. Maso was honored with the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence at Boston’s Elliot Norton Awards. He is an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Boston University.

Given to an individual, cultural organization or school that has developed a model education program in the arts, humanities or sciences.

Shakespeare & Company
Shakespeare & CompanyFor more than twenty-five years, Shakespeare & Company has been committed to bringing Shakespeare alive and into the lives of students, teachers, and communities. The Company's education program now reaches more than 50,000 students and teachers annually with creative, socially responsive and challenging performances, workshops, and residencies. Through these classical works, students experience the collective truths of human nature.

The Company’s flagship education program, Shakespeare in Action, is one of the most in-depth and high-quality theatre residencies in the Northeast. At ten different schools in Massachusetts and upstate New York, Company artists and directors conduct a nine-week language-based exploration of different Shakespeare plays culminating in full-scale, ninety-minute productions. In 2001, in collaboration with the Berkshire Juvenile Court, Shakespeare & Company launched the Shakespeare in the Courts initiative, an innovative, experimental arts program that serves adjudicated juvenile offenders ages 13-17 as part of their probation. Drawing on the timeless power of Shakespeare’s plays, the program helps the participants learn how to make positive contributions in a group setting, develop self esteem, and experience a sense of accomplishment.

Given to an organization or individual that has significantly integrated the arts, humanities or sciences into a community.

Raw Art Works
Cambridge Arts Council, CAC 10th Annual Summer in the City Performance Series, "Carribean for Kids"; photo by Yolanda McCollum Raw Art Works got its start in 1988 as Massachusetts' first statewide art therapy program for incarcerated youth. The power of work with juvenile offenders inspired the founders to build a creative refuge where youth on the edge of risky urban street life could find shelter and creative nourishment. With the motto "There are no mistakes - just ART," Raw Art Works opened in 1994 in Lynn, a city of 90,000 working to manage economic challenges and a diversity of cultures and languages.

Over the past six years, young artists known as the Raw Kids have created a studio, Raw Space, that is jam-packed with brightly painted chairs, sofas, floor coverings, and wall-to-wall art. In Raw's vehicle, Van-Go, nearly a hundred youngsters are transported to Raw Space each week. All staffers are professional artists and master's level art therapists who provide a safe haven where kids can explore the language of art.

Cultural Organization
Given for an organization's overall artistic excellence and its impact on public life in the Commonwealth.

Wheelock Family Theatre
Wheelock Family TheatreSince its founding in 1981, more than half a million young people and adults have enjoyed professional theatre experiences at Wheelock Family Theatre (WFT). Nearly a quarter of a million young people have participated in WFT classes, school partnership activities, and student matinee series. Hundreds of families and children have performed in WFT’s seventy-one productions alongside scores of professional Equity actors.

WFT is the only theatre in Boston with an education program sustained by a professional theater and an institution of higher education, Wheelock College, whose specialty is child development and early childhood education. It was the first New England recipient of the Actors’ Equity Association Rosetta LeNoire Award—a national honor recognizing outstanding contributions to the goal of increasing diversity in the American theatre.

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