Now in its sixteenth year, the Distinguished Artists program honors an individual Minnesota artist who has made significant contributions to the state's cultural life and includes a $50,000 cash award. The foundation plans to honor Lehr at a private event later this year.
Lehr, who graduated from Webster Groves High School in St. Louis, Missouri, moved to Minnesota after joining the traveling theater group Theater on the Road during her sophomore year at Drake University, where she studied English, theater, and philosophy. Today, she serves on the faculty of the MacPhail Center for Music's Prelude Program, which introduces high school students to a variety of possibilities as performing artists.
In Minnesota, she is best known for her affiliation with the Children's Theatre Company, where she has appeared in and directed numerous productions. Nationally, Lehr has performed with the Arizona Theater Company, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Seaside Music Theater in Florida, and Kansas City Repertory.
"With her talent, Wendy Lehr could have built a fine theater career in many locations around the country," said McKnight Foundation president Kate Wolford. "It is our good fortune that fate brought her here fifty years ago, and that she chose to stay and share her art with generations of Minnesotans. Wendy has shaped the path of Twin Cities' theater at least as much as it has helped shape her."