Branford Marsalis and Dani Lotton-Barker were presented the 2015-16 Lied Center IMPACT Awards on Wednesday, April 6, prior to the Branford Marsalis Quartet performance. This is the second season the Lied Center is recognizing one artist or group for distinguished service to the performing arts and one USD 497 educator for distinguished service to arts education.
Executive Director Derek Kwan comments, “The Lied Center is ecstatic to honor Branford Marsalis and Dani Lotton-Barker for their amazing accomplishments. We are truly grateful to both of them for helping to inspire the next generation of artists and arts lovers.” Branford Marsalis, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and renowned Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, was recognized for his impact on the performing arts in the areas of leadership, integrity, education and discovery. One example of his accomplishments in these areas includes establishing Marsalis Jams, a new approach to jazz education in which leading jazz ensembles present concerts/jam sessions in mini-residencies. Another is his work with Harry Connick, Jr. They conceived the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this organization provided new homes for displaced residents, including displaced musicians and their families.
Dani Lotton-Barker, gifted education teacher at Southwest Middle School, was recognized for her amazing capacity to create unique and expansive opportunities and inspire her students. LottonBarker’s classroom environment is known to support and encourage the integration of various arts into the curriculum. She also commits time and effort into supporting Lied Center education programs and projects including the lobby exhibits. As the educator honoree, Lotton-Barker receives a complimentary pair of tickets to each main stage Lied Center performance during the 2015-2016 season.
Each year, after the season is booked, the Lied Center administration selects up to five artists or groups to be considered for the IMPACT Award based upon the established criteria. In August, all current and former Friends of the Lied board members vote for one of the nominees via electronic survey. The educator is selected with the assistance of USD 497 ambassadors to the Lied Center and the Adventures in Imagination board. This selection is based on the teacher’s service to arts education.