Rick Shiomi receives 2015 McKnight Distinguished Artist award
Toronto native and one-time Vancouver resident Rick Shiomi is the recipient of the 2015 McKnight Distinguished Artist award, recognizing an individual artist who has made a significant contribution to the arts community in the state of Minnesota. The award comes with a $50,000 cash prize.
After moving to Vancouver from Toronto, Shiomi went on to become the coordinator of the first Powell Street Festival in 1977 as well as helping found Katari Taiko, Canada’s first taiko group. Relocating to the United States, Shiomi began his theater career in San Francisco, California at the Asian American Theater Company where his first play, Yellow Fever, was produced in 1982, for which he received the 1982 Bay Area Theater Circle Critics Award and a “Bernie” for a new play from the San Francisco Chronicle.
He later moved to New York where the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre produced several of his plays, including a prequel to Yellow Fever titled Rosie’s Cafe and a sequel, Once is Never Enough, co-authored with Marc Hayashi and Lane Kiyomi Nishikawa.
Relocating once again, this time to St. Paul, Minnesota, Shiomi cofounded Theater Mu, where he served as the artistic director for 20 years. With Shiomi at the helm, Theater Mu transitioned into the nationally recognized Mu Performing Arts, one of the largest Asian-American theatre companies in the country. He has written, directed and produced more than 50 plays within the last four decades.
Shiomi has previously received a Ivey lifetime achievement award from the Twin Cities theater community and a Sally Award from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. The 67-year-old playwright, director and actor has been gathering accolades since the 1992 founding of Mu, from which he retired in 2013 (although he has continued to work there and around the country).
Since retiring as Mu’s artistic director, Shiomi, his wife, Martha Johnson, and three others have founded a new artistic collective, Full Circle Theater Company.
Shiomi also established Mu Daiko, a taiko drumming group within Mu Performing Arts.
“Given the breadth, scope, and importance of Rick Shiomi’s artistic legacy, there is no single yardstick by which to measure his impact,” McKnight president Kate Wolford said in a news release. “It is multifaceted, trailblazing, and extends well beyond his commitment to Asian American theater in the Twin Cities, and we at McKnight are honored to celebrate his accomplishments with this award.”