the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Catherine Oppenheimer

Santa Fe

2012 Recipient, Major Contributor to the Arts

Catherine Oppenheimer of Santa Fe is recognized as a major contributor to the arts for her work supporting strong arts education programs in New Mexico.

She co-founded the National Dance Institute of New Mexico in 1994 (NDI-NM) and is past chair. NDI is recognized for "Teaching Children Excellence," and has introduced thousands of New Mexico children to dance training and performance experiences as an effective catalyst for character development and artistic expression.

Oppenheimer was also the driving force behind the creation of the New Mexico School for the Arts, New Mexico's first chartered residential high school for the performing and visual arts. The charter school is dedicated to arts mastery and academic excellence assisting passionate young artists in developing their full potential.

An impressive artist in her own right, Oppenheimer danced with the New York City Ballet under the leadership of choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and with the Twyla Tharp Dance Company.

Oppenheimer came to New Mexico to teach residencies with NDI in Santa Fe and in selected rural communities. NDI provides classes at its Dance Barns to all children who desire to study the performing arts regardless of financial capabilities.

In 2008, Oppenheimer was honored by the MS Society of New Mexico with its Award of Distinction and by the New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts for her dedication to the arts.

In 2005, the readers of The Santa Fe New Mexican named Oppenheimer to its annual "Ten Who Made a Difference" list.

Under Oppenheimer's leadership, NDI received a prestigious Coming Up Taller Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, which was awarded by then First Lady Laura Bush.