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Susan Feldman, St. Ann’s Warehouse artistic director, to receive high honor from Irish government

December 1, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Susan Feldman, founder and artistic director of St. Ann’s Warehouse, will receive Ireland’s Presidential Distinguished Service Award on Thursday. More than 3,000 miles away from Brooklyn, now in Dublin, Feldman will receive the award directly from Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland, at the president’s official residence, Aras an Uachtarain.

Feldman will receive this high honor, according to Erik Wallin, general manager of St. Ann’s Warehouse, as a “well-deserved acknowledgement of Susan’s tireless and prolific commitment to the work of Irish artists over many years of her role as artistic director at St. Ann’s.”

Among the many Irish-related productions at St. Ann’s over the years have been Enda Walsh’s play “Medicine,” currently running; a showing of “Hamlet” starring Irish Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga in 2020; the American premiere of Enda Walsh’s “Ballyturk” in 2018, and others. “Medicine” is St. Ann’s first international production since the pandemic began.

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Nominations are made through an extensive Irish Embassy Network around the world in the areas of Arts and Sports, Business, Charity, Peace and Reconciliation, Science and Technology.  Recent recipients have included the actor Fiona Shaw and Dr. Michael Ryan, the CEO of the World Health Organization.  Other well-known recipients in the area of Arts & Culture have included actors Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne.  

The organization, originally known as Arts at St. Ann, was founded in 1980. The organization was at first housed at the Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity on Montague Street, and it raised at least $4 million for the church’s restoration. 

Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland. Photo courtesy of Irish Defence Forces

The group moved to a former factory at 38 Water St. in DUMBO in 2001, and was thereafter known as St. Ann’s Warehouse. In 2015, it moved into the historic Tobacco Warehouse building in Brooklyn Bridge Park after renovations.

The group was at first known for presenting classical music, and then branched out into contemporary music, theater, puppetry (for many years, Bread and Puppet Theater appeared annually) and mixed media. Among the many musical artists it has presented over the years are Aaron Neville, David Byrne, Richard Thompson, Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash and Jackson Browne.

St. Ann’s Warehouse. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

This is, of course, far from the first time Feldman has been honored. In 2004, she and St. Ann’s Warehouse were given the Village Voice’s Ross Wetzseon OBIE Award for the development of new work. She also received the 2019 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical (Daniel Fish’s production of Oklahoma!). And in 1999, her own musical play, “In the Time of the Comedian Harmonists,” about a German singing group that was unable to survive Hitler, was performed at the Montague Street venue.

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