Delores Jackson Radney received the 2018 Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award during a recent performance of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester.
Geva Theatre Center created the award in 2011. It was named in honor of Essie Calhoun-McDavid, retired chief diversity officer, director of community affairs, vice president of Eastman Kodak Co. and chairman of the 2011 United Way of Greater Rochester Campaign. Calhoun-McDavid was the first recipient of this award, which is given annually to a person or organization that promotes and encourages diversity in the arts.
Past recipients include Garth Fagan in 2012, School of the Arts in 2013, Thomas Warfield in 2014, Nydia Padilla-Rodriguez in 2015, Rachel DeGuzman in 2016 and Debora McDell-Hernandez in 2017.
Radney is the founding partner of Kuumba Consultants, an arts-in-education agency that provides arts and cultural programming for schools and youth organizations throughout the region. Radney served as the theater resource educator for Rochester City School District in 2001-04, where she designed drama curriculum to satisfy the state learning standards in drama and enhance student understanding in all subject areas. She was a museum educator at Memorial Art Gallery in 1991-2001, where she oversaw family programs and community outreach to underserved audiences.
Radney was the artistic director of a youth drama troupe, Kuumba Kids, in 1995-2005. She is a writer and director of 11 original curriculum-related plays written for classrooms of students. Radney created and produced “Our Stories Ourselves: 19th Century Afro Rochester,” an interactive learning resource for school and community learning. The learning resource includes video and audio tools, a photo album and slides of paintings to teach about Rochester’s role in the African-American freedom movement of the 19th century. “Our Stories Ourselves” is now a permanent part of school resources and is in many RCSD school libraries. “Let’s Have Tea,” another school resource guide produced by Radney, is inspired by the sculpture of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony in Anthony Square, and teaches students about these leaders with an emphasis on living a peaceful life in a multi-ethnic society. She serves as an artist/educator for Geva Theatre Center’s in-school workshops.
An active member of the Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition, Radney served as the organization’s chairman in 2000-14. She is past president of the Greater Rochester/Antigua and Barbuda chapter of Partners of the Americas.
Radney graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in dramatic arts and communications from SUNY Geneseo. She is a 1999 Smithsonian fellow in museum studies, and the recipient of the 2001 Partners of the Americas fellowship in international development. Radney received numerous arts and cultural grants and awards, including a 1998 Special Citation Award from the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester, the 1999 LINKS White Rose Award for special contributions in the arts, the 2000 Amigas of Latinas Unitas, the 2005 Kuumba Award from the Southwest Neighborhood Association, 2013 UB/EOC Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2015 City of Rochester Black Heritage Pioneer Award and the 2016 MJS Productions Artist Award.
The Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award recognizes that art allows for the expression of truths and beliefs and helps people gain an understanding of one another and their world. It further acknowledges that a mixture of cultures stimulates creativity, the sharing of ideas and the building of a common collective future, which has always been close to Calhoun’s heart.
“At this critical time in our community and in our nation, it is important to recognize those who have committed their lives to making a difference in the arts through their celebration of our diversity,” said Mark Cuddy, artistic director. “Delores Jackson Radney has been doing such heroic work in Rochester for decades, and is a worthy recipient of this unique award that personifies its namesake, Essie Calhoun-McDavid.”
The Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award is designed by local glass artist Nancy Gong. Gong combines the traditional techniques of stained glass craftsmen and stone carvers with her own style of creating texture and painting to craft pieces that are coveted by collectors. The Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award is a multicolored pyramid of glass.