TACA Custom Auction Gala’s Celebration Of 50 Years Of Funding The Arts “Tranformed” Into A Glistening Affair

The TACA Custom Auction Gala celebrating the art funding organization’s 50th anniversary was a time to glisten and shine. And on Friday, September 8, the first black-tie gala of the 2017 fall/winter fundraising season did just that. Only it wasn’t exactly for the reason some might have predicted.

Unlike years past, when it was held entirely inside the legendary Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, the guests discovered as they drove up to the auto courtyard that the gala had taken up more real estate. A large, see-thru tent complete with overhead lights and greenery, bars and a black stage surrounded by tables and chairs had been erected in the courtyard adjacent to the august hotel. Here the cocktail reception would be held, followed by the evening’s program. As for dinner, guests would saunter into the Mansion to dine and wine.

Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart

Linda and Bill Custard

Robyn Flatt and Wilson Tarver

Don and Carol Glendenning

TACA Custom Auction Gala Co-Chairs Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing reported that they were planning on wedding in summer 2018…Breast cancer survivor Linda Custard topped off in snow white hair reported that husband Bill Custard had teased her the year before that, for the first time, he had more hair than she did…Dallas Children’s Theater’s Robyn Flatt was thrilled about the theater’s new mega-sign lighting that took place on Wednesday, August 30. She also added that ticket sales for the annual Cabaret were going briskly…. After checking in outside the tent, guests like Carol and Don Glendenning, Wendy and Jeremy Strick, Laura and Dennis Moon, Lynn and Allan McBee, Lisa and Bill Ogle, Katherine Wynne and John Baer, Jan Barboglio, Barbara and Steve Durham, Stacie and Steve Adams and Mimi and Rich Sterling ambled on in for drinks and the evening’s festivities.

John Baer, Katherine Wynne and Laura and Dennis Moon

Jessica Chandler

Diane and Hal Brierley

When Dallas Theater Center Associate Artistic Director Joel Ferrell called the beautiful people to start the program, the veteran high rollers discovered that things had changed from the past. Instead of having front-row tables reserved for them to raise their bid paddles, it was a first-come, first-sit situation.

Then, as the body count for the sold-out event climbed past 275, the glamorous joint started getting pretty cozy. Thankfully it wasn’t a simmering August heat wave, and the  September evening’s outdoor temperature was still lingering in the upper 70’s. Still, the couple of occasionally open tent doors weren’t letting in much of a breeze. Like Ashley Wilkes, tuxedoed men in white buttoned-up shirts with ties smiled bravely, as their lady friends fanned themselves with their bid paddles like Scarlett O’Hara on the porch of Tara. It wasn’t a question of the portable A/C units not working up to snuff. Someone said there was an A/C unit trying its best in the back of the tent. But like the Titanic lifeboat count, there just weren’t enough of the little blowhards to meet the need as the festivities continued.

Joel got things started by introducing the evening’s Co-Chairs/lovebugs Wanda Gierhart and Dean Fearing. The former Mansion/current Ritz chef with headset in place kicked things off welcoming the group. But when Wanda tried to provide an added welcome, her handheld mic proved to be a silent stick. Panic on the sidelines kicked in, and event planner Randi Steinhart scrambled on stage handing Wanda another handheld mic. It proved to be suffering from the same “Silent Sam” ailment as the other mic. Giggles arose among the guests. After repeated exchanges of dead mics with similar results and pleading looks at the production table with no results, the laughter had been replaced with awkward smiles. Trooper Wanda saved the situation by simply talking into Dean’s headset.

Celebration

With a working mic in hand, TACA Chair Donna Wilhelm introduced “Celebration,” a dance commissioned by TACA to celebrate TACA’s 50th anniversary and performed by Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Bruce Wood Dance, and Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Things were heating up. Now bid paddles were fanning at full pace, as the dancers performed flawlessly. But the icy cocktails were starting to wear off, and the body-heat temperatures table-side were rising.

Donna Wilhelm

Michelle Thomas

Katherine Bull and Jan Barboglio

Instead of going straight to the live auction, Donna returned to the stage and told of her roots in funding the New Works Fund going back to her childhood as the daughter of Polish immigrants. She was followed by incoming TACA Chair Michelle Thomas, who reported, “Did you know?” about TACA. On the front row was one of TACA’s original members Katherine Bull, who could have read chapter and verse about the days of Jane Murchison (Haber), Evelyn Lambert, Virginia Nick and the ladies getting together to raise funds for a new art group — Dallas Theater Center. But there was no mention of them or the TACA roots on this night.

The paddles kept paddling the air like a metronome at presto speed to fight off the feel of perspiration.

Louis Murad and Cyndi Phelps

Finally, it was time for auctioneer Louis Murad to lead the live auction. His aim, he’d said, was to haul in about $250,000. He said it was not going to be a repeat of the 2015 TACA Custom Auction Gala, when he had conducted the lackluster TACA auction in the cool Mansion Promenade. But as starting time neared, some, who knew they weren’t “players” or were starting to succumb to the heat, headed into the cool confines of the Mansion.

Auction sign holder

As Louis hopped on stage, he looked at the crowd of beauts and still felt confident. Two 21st century Austin Powers lovelies walked the stage like boxing ring girls holding signs designating the package for the crowd that was starting to look like a formally attired hot-yoga class. Flutes that had held champagne were drained. Makeup was starting to show premature signs of melting. Slender gals in gowns, who had stilettoed their way over the cobblestone courtyard, were now leaning against the tent’s walls, looking like wilted daisies. One woman at a front-row table stood. Louis asked if she was rising to bid. No, she was headed to the bar for a couple of drinks for friends. Items that had been described as “priceless,” were barely hitting the five-figure neighborhood.

Thanks to Diane and Hal Brierley, the evening’s bidding venture wasn’t a total loss, with their taking home dinner with Dean Fearing and Cowboy greats (Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston and Emmitt Smith) for $32,500. Alas, Louis’ goal of a quarter of a million bucks didn’t hit its target. Including the post-auction, shout-out for funds, the evening’s take wasn’t too much more than $100,000.

One person commented, “Too sober. Too hot. This group is ready for church.”

As crass as this comment was, it was a Reader’s Digest critique. Usually, most fundraisers have the live auction preceded by a cocktail party and a well-quenched dinner. The true experts in the live auction world know that you don’t want the guests to be “too happy” that they don’t have the day-after blues. But you do want them to be lulled into feeling the lift of the paddles is painless. Not the case here. Between the heat and the grumbling tummies, these celebrants wanted to get out of the tent and onto dinner inside the air-conditioned Mansion.

According to one TACA organizer, the thinking was that people wanted the dinner to follow the live auction, so they could settle back and linger, as opposed to hustling to the auction. They also felt that the dance performance would rally the paddles into a frenzy high.

But this POA turned into a perfect storm for Monday morning quarterbacking. Had they held the live auction in the Mansion ballroom, the heat factor would not have kicked in. Had they held the live auction after the seated dinner, there would have been a more festive lifting of the paddles. Had the auction items been curated by a true luxury team like the 2017 Art Ball’s Jennifer Karol and Rajan Patel instead of parceling some items out to out-of-state AmFund, the paddles might have waved like the flags on the Fourth of July. Had the annual farm-to-table package been part of the lineup, even the poorest of the rich crowd would have had paddled up.

Editor’s comment: As the new regime of TACA gets underway for the next 50 years, it appears to still be a project in development. But on this night the celebration of TACA’s 50th anniversary wasn’t quite the bravo production that some had hoped for. MIA were some longtime TACA supporters. According to one source, past TACA chairs had been invited to join the host committee. When one “past TACA co-chair” had received the invite, she responded, “My husband and I don’t support the arts. We’ve never been to a TACA event, so I doubt we’ve ever chaired one.”

Organizers intimated that this would be the last TACA live auction. Perhaps it’s just as well, since the 2017 TACA Custom Auction Gala went out with a whimper, and not a bang.

Greg Patterson Takes A Final Bow As WaterTower Theatre Managing Director This Month

Change continues at WaterTower Theatre. It was just a year ago that the Addison-based Theatre’s Artistic Director Terry Martin left and a search commenced for a replacement. That search resulted in bringing on board Joanie Schultz, who made headlines with her first local production — “Hit The Wall.”

Greg Patterson and Joanie Schultz (File photo)

Now word arrives that Managing Director Greg Patterson will be leaving the company at the end of the month, when his contract ends.

According to Greg, “I’ve so enjoyed my nearly 10 years here at WaterTower Theatre. My tenure at WaterTower Theatre has been the happiest time for me professionally. Over a year ago, when WTT was embarking on the search for a new Artistic Director, I committed myself to ensuring the transition from Terry Martin to Joanie Schultz would be as smooth and easy as possible, and to play a role in setting the Company on the right path going forward. I always knew that after that transition was completed, it would be time for me to look for new and exciting life adventures, and that time is now. I love WaterTower Theatre and all the donors, board, and staff who have made this Company so successful during my 9+ years of service. WTT has an exciting, bright future with Joanie at the helm and I couldn’t feel more pride and confidence in this great Company than I do at this point.”

In the meantime, “WaterTower Theatre’s Board of Directors has established a transition team comprised of the Executive Committee and Artistic Director Joanie Schultz to manage the theater’s operations until a new Managing Director is named.”

Americans For The Arts Study Provides Numbers And Facts About North Texas Arts Community’s Economic Impact Using The B-Word

There are those who scoff at the economic muscle of the nonprofit sector. Perhaps it is because they think back to their days when they equated nonprofits with saving pennies for Savings Bonds. However, the nonprofit organizations have become powerhouses of businesses that translate into more than supporting and growing communities. They also provide big bucks across the board.

On Wednesday, June 28, at the Dallas City Performance Hall, the Business Council for the Arts, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and the Dallas Arts District provided numbers and facts that the arts of North Texas alone “generated $1,473,366,015 in annual economic activity.” Check that number again. In addition to the dollars, it also supported 52,848 full-time equivalent jobs and generated $167.2M in local and state government revenues.

The trio didn’t just pull those numbers of their proverbial hats. An “exhaustive national economic impact study, Arts and Economic Prosperity 5,” was conducted by the Americans for the Arts with the Business Council for the Arts gathering the research in this region. The study is conducted to “examine cities, counties and states nationwide every five years. This year, for a regional perspective, six North Texas cities and cultural districts participated with Business Council for the Arts, demonstrating the reach and impact of arts and culture in neighborhoods and communities across the region.”

Katherine Wagner (File photo)

According to Business Council for the Arts CEO Katherine Wagner, “This study shows, in power numbers, just what a critical role arts and culture also play in keeping our national, state and local economies vibrant and growing. Reflecting our population and business growth, our region is now the third largest arts economy in the nation.”

Highlights from the study included the following:

North Texas Highlights

  • The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA came in third, measured against other multi-county regions in the country.
  • The economic impact of arts and culture organizations in North Texas more than tripled between the previously published study in 2012 and the current study – from $428,512,328 to $1,473,366,015.
  • In the region, the nonprofit arts and culture sector equated to 52,848 FTE jobs supported, translating into $1.3 billion in annual salaries.
  • North Texas cultural audience attendance numbers totaled 13,970,000 in 2015, contributing $473,856,433 to the economy.

City of Dallas Highlights

The study found that the City of Dallas, which also participated in the 2010 study, is seeing robust returns from its annual and long-term investment in the arts, including triple-digit growth in economic impact, jobs and audiences, as well as generating even more revenue for state and local government. In FY 2015:

  • Total economic activity tied to Dallas arts and culture was $891 million, up from the $321 million in the 2010 study – a 2.8-fold increase.
  • Dallas arts organizations and audiences supported 33,554 jobs, a nearly 3-fold increase over data collected in 2010.
  • Dallas arts and culture generated revenue of $97 million to local and state governments.

Dallas Arts District Highlights

  • The economic activity of the Dallas Arts District alone has tripled in five years, going from $128.6 million to $395.8 million.
  • The revenue generated for local government from Dallas Arts District arts organizations and audiences was $19 million in 2015.
  • 14,932 jobs are supported by Dallas Arts District arts organizations and audiences.

According to Americans for the Arts President/CEO Robert L. Lynch, “This study demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation. A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and helps local communities become stronger and healthier places to live. Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

While these numbers and results are staggering, they are also just a snapshot of one sector within the incredible North Texas nonprofit world.

 

Attorneys Serving The Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon Scored A Summer Hit With Junior Players And “Hamilton”‘s Christopher Jackson

Inside the Hilton Anatole’s Carpenter Ballroom, organizers and VIP guests were starting to arrive before 11 a.m. on Friday, June 23. Even the most “been-there, done-that” boldfacer had a look of anticipation. In an adjacent room, fewer than a handful of chairs were set up for an interview with the keynote speaker for the Attorneys Serving the Community’s 31st Annual Luncheon benefiting Junior Players.

KERA reporter Hady Mawajdeh had all his equipment set up as Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award-winning Christopher Jackson arrived. It was obvious from his height and demeanor why he had scored a Tony nomination for his portrayal of George Washington in “Hamilton.” As Chris settled back in the chair, he proved even more so with his articulate responses to Hady’s questions. Highlights included:

Christopher Jackson and Hady Mawajdeh

  • Junior Players — “They (children) have the distinct perspective of seeing the world as it should be perhaps and as is. Who better to hold up that mirror than the children, especially organizations like the Junior Players, where you’ve got kids from all over the economic spectrum and who are learning what it means to communicate with and express themselves? It’s an organization that can provide a palette for that. There is no higher pursuit in our society than giving kids the opportunity to experience something like that.”
  • The first role —“I grew up with middle-child syndrome. So, acting was pretty much my only way to garner any kind of attention in the house… I participated in every Sunday service every week. So getting up in front of people was never really something I had a hard time with. Pretty much I was the ham. [Laughter]”
  • Career — “A career in the arts is not for everyone. But I would say that 90% of what I get to do is to have fun with my friends. Who doesn’t want to do that for a living? But the same could be said about someone who works in social sciences or teachers or engineers or astronomers. Once you find that passion and a way to it, that’s it right there… For me, it’s as much the pursuit of what I don’t know as it is seeing the finished product on the show or in the song.”
  • Hip Hop — “Hip Hop rap is probably the best form of modern-day storytelling and maybe the latest great, pure American art form… But it depends on what part of the country you come from. Hip hop is very regionalized and that happened very, very quickly toward the end of the ’90s, where every market, every group wanted to have their own sound and created their own sound. The same could be said for rock; the same could be said for gospel music. It’s a testament to how big our country is. And it’s a testament to the different kinds of cultures within our society and there’s room for all of that.”
  • Hamilton — “You’d be amazed how many people have come up to me said, ‘I’m a little nervous about the rap.’ But it’s much like Shakespeare. If you’ve ever seen a Shakespeare play, the first five minutes you have no idea of what’s going on. You don’t know what anybody is saying. You’re not accustomed to people speaking in iambic pentameter. And yet in that first five minutes your ear gets attuned to it and off you go.”
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda — “Lin has been regarded as a modern-day Shakespeare in the way he uses verse to communicate the story and I honestly believe that it certainly descends from that.”
  • Sesame Street — “The idea of writing for ‘Sesame Street’ was a dream come true.”

Peter Altabef, Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Christopher Jackson, Jennifer Altabef, Rosaura Cruz Webb and Beth Bedell

Christopher Jackson and Kathleen LaValle

Michael Holmes, Sophia Holmes and Cathleen Holmes

With that the interview ended at 11:10 a.m., as one of the organizers said, “He’s got a long line out there.” They were speaking of the people lined up along the Carpenter Ballroom wall for the meet-and-greet. Without hesitation, Chris posed for a photo with Hady and headed straight to the sponsor backdrop. Chris accommodated one and all including Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price, Honorary Co-Chairs Jennifer and Peter Altabef, Junior Players Executive Director Rosaura Cruz Webb, and Kathleen LaValle with autographs, cellphone snaps and chats. Ten-year-old Sophia Holmes’ twin sister, Addison Holmes, couldn’t attend, but Sophia had brought along a “Hamilton” book for Chris to sign. After seeing, “Hamilton” in NYC, Sophia fessed up that Chris’ George Washington was her favorite character.

At 11:30 the doors to the Grand Ballroom opened for nearly 1,000 guests including Ellen Magnis, Joanna Clark, Angie Kadesky. Shelly Slater arrived to be prepped for the onstage chat. Had she met him? No, but she had seen him on YouTube.

The Junior Players arrived and approached the production platform rapping, “Hamilton.”

Jeremy Coca in vest surrounded by Junior Players

, who had been in the first Junior Players musical production three years before when he was attending Booker T. Washington, reported that he had seen Chris in “The Heights.”

Rosaura Cruz-Webb told how the night before, when they were setting up for the luncheon, Chris had come down from his room and chatted and charmed them all.

As the guests started to take their seats, Junior Players one at a time popped up throughout the room performing. Seamlessly, they grabbed everyone’s attention that the program was underway. Chris watched with a smile of admiration at the young performers pulling off a perfect launch for the day’s affair.

At 12:06 Shelly welcomed the group and introduced Kara, who was joined by Beth in presenting the ASC Friend of the Community Award to the Hilton Anatole Senior Catering Sales Manager Catherine New, who has orchestrated many of the area’s major fundraisers.

Beth Bedell, Catherine New and Kara Altenbaumer-Price

Following Rosaura’s telling how Junior Players had turned around her life as a young person, a video was shown with the audio ramped up and the house lights so dim that one guest had to use her cellphone flashlight to find her way out of the ballroom.

Lisette Sandoval

As the video ended, a young woman who had been seated at the far end of the head table took her place at the podium. Her name was Lisette Sandoval and she told how it hadn’t been that long ago that she had felt her destiny was to get pregnant by 15 and drop out of school. Instead her brother directed her to Junior Players, where her life took a different road. Lisette admitted that at one point suicide had been an option. What dashed that thought was news that she had been picked for the cast of “Taming of the Shrew.” She is now going to college on a scholarship.

Lisette was followed by Honorary Co-Chair Peter Altabef and a video of Renee Elise Goldsberry, who had originally been slated to be the keynote speaker. When she had to pull out due to scheduling, Renee arranged for Chris to sub in.

Chris started off by admitting, “Good afternoon, my name is Christopher Jackson and I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. I don’t know any lawyer jokes. None of that would surprise or astound you…. I am an artist. A profession that is historically a few rungs lower than a garbage collector, but if all the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players, I beg your patience and indulgence today. I want to sincerely thank ASC for having me here today. Thank you very much. The fact that I have been sweating since I sat down here might be an indication that I am more than a little intimidated being in a room full of people who are clearly smarter than I am.”

Using his own journey from his childhood in Cairo, Illinois, he told of the turning point in his childhood when a teacher handed him a text from “The Crucible,” and invited him to join the speech team. “I don’t what it was that made me said yes, except that perhaps I was so desperate to distinguish myself in some way or the other. I quickly realized that this acting thing was different. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t concerned with what didn’t work. I wasn’t consumed with what I didn’t have. I began to see the world from a character’s perspective and that helped me to develop my own perspective. It was terrifying and exhilarating and it changed my life forever.”

At the age of 17, he moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. In 1997, he was hired to be the understudy for Simba in “The Lion King,” just an hour before the first rehearsal.   

He claimed that if it hadn’t been for that “key”—when he received “The Crucible”—he’d probably be selling caskets in Cairo. Chris was serious. “True story. My family owns a funeral home.”

Chris then praised and encouraged support for the Junior Players for their 55 years of providing a key for thousands and thousands of children “to emerge from utter darkness and seeing an entire galaxy.”

Christopher Jackson

Leaving the podium, he was joined in chairs on stage with Shelly to discuss

  • Getting the role of George Washington — “Lin allowed his imagination to run wild and he saw these characters (in “Hamilton”) in a different way. Lin is one of my best friends in the whole world. I knew very early on that he was on to something because I thought he was crazy. The story is that we were doing a performance of ‘In the Heights,’ and during one of the numbers… he had just come back from vacation and he kinda looked over at me and said, ‘Got the next thing.’ Okay, great! I said, ‘What is it?’ (He said,) ‘It’s about the treasury secretary.’ A few days later, our director Tommy Kail approached me and said, G-dubs!’ I asked, ‘What does that mean?’ ‘George Washington… GW’ I thought, ‘Oh, great! We have shorthand. What does that mean?’ He said I was going to be George Washington. I said, ‘Great! I don’t know anything about George Washington. ‘
  • “Hamilton”’s first preview — “’Hamilton literally began at the White House. Lin was asked to perform a song about the American experience at the Evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word. This was in 2009 and he didn’t want to do something from ‘In the Heights.” He was just getting an idea of what ‘Hamilton’ was going to be, so he wrote what would become our opening number and he performed it. Everybody including President Obama looked at him like, ‘What is wrong with him?’”
  • Bro-hug with the President — It was years later when the cast of “Hamilton” was invited to perform at the White House that following the performance, President Obama gave Christopher a “bro hug.” As Christopher recalled, “Moments like that aren’t supposed to happen to a young boy from Cairo. My grandmother, who marched and was a union organizer and civil rights organizer and a black entrepreneur when it was definitely hard to be that in the South, raised me to understand that nothing was impossible… Always be aware of limitations so you can know how to get past them. She raised me to that moment, but she didn’t dream that moment for me.”
  • As a parent — “I’m really at the point where I’m trying to get my kids to pick their shoes up. I’m trying to get them to handle some light chores. I mean, I don’t want them to live like ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ but they can take the trash once in a while and wash their hair. My kids are Neanderthals. I can’t show them how to feel…but I can show them about justice. And I can teach them about inequality and equality. And I can teach them about respect — all the things that I was given and we were all given when it comes to just wake up in the morning, put your shoes, look people in the eye, be honest, look out for someone who has less than you, take up for the kid who is being bullied, stand up for the weaker one of us. It is all of those principles that I was given and try to live by….”

While summer heat may shoo locals to cooler places, the ASC’s 31st Annual luncheon made staying in North Texas seem like the coolest place in the world, thanks to Chris and the Junior Players.

TACA Custom Auction Item #1 — Around The World With Rosewood

Back in 1966 when the late Jane Murchison (Haber), Evelyn Lambert, Virginia Nick and Betty Black Guiberson were trying to raise money for the Dallas Theater Center, they planted the seeds for TACA. To accomplish the fundraising, they held an auction — “it consisted, essentially, of four booths selling exotic food, one at each corner of the brand-new NorthPark center, and a write-in auction in front of Jas. K. Wilson.” By 1968 they had decided to try an auction on television, so they approached Channel 39. It turned out to be a combination of a mega-telethon and “Saturday Night Live” with local unknowns and well-knowns serving as hosts.

Legend has it that originally TACA stood for “TheAter Custom Auction” or “The Auction for Cultural Arts,” but the final representation is “The Arts Community Alliance.”

Over the years, TACA changed directions and expanding its beneficiaries and activities to include the Silver Cup Luncheon, Party on the Green and the TACA Custom Auction that eventually replaced the TV auction. It made sense. Afterall, the garnering of countless items, volunteers and sponsors for the TV auction required a heck of a lot of effort compared to the Custom Auction. This year the collection of TACA Custom Auction Gala items at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek will be limited to just six. Here is the first of the six that will be up for bid on Friday, September 8:

TACA Custom Auction Gala Package #1 – Around The World With Rosewood*

Phileas Fogg and Passepartout would have had absolutely killed for this worldly excursion. Instead of schlepping around the world in 80 days, the winner of this live auction package will experience international luxury ala Rosewood style with a guest. Within 15 days, the twosome will fly American Airlines to the following five Rosewood properties for three-night stays:

Rosewood Phuket**

Rosewood Puebla**

Rosewood Washington**

Rosewood Little Dix Bay**

Rosewood London**

The only downside is that it’s going to spoil the twosome for future trips.

* Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels and American Airlines 
** Photo provided by TACA

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Obelisk Awards Luncheon

Steven Roth and Thai-Ian Tran*

According to Parkland Health and Hospital System Senior Deputy General Counsel and 2017 Obelisk Awards Luncheon Co-Chairs Steven Roth and Thai-Ian Tran,

I hope the Dallas community will make plans to join the Business Council for the Arts and us for the 29th Annual Obelisk Awards on Wednesday, November 15, at the Belo Mansion.  

The Obelisk Awards recognizes companies and leaders in business and the arts for their invaluable contributions supporting arts and culture in North Texas. We know this year’s recipients will be no exception and we look forward to announcing them soon.

Ryan Anthony (File photo)

The Obelisk Awards luncheon will include a reception, seated lunch and recognition of the 2017 award recipients. The keynote speaker for the event is Karen Brooks Hopkins, who currently serves as the Nasher Haemisegger Fellow for the National Center for Arts Research. She is the former president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Returning as Master of Ceremonies is North Texas Public Broadcasting President/CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff, which includes KERA Radio and Television, as well as KXT and affiliated programs. Returning to the Obelisk stage will be last year’s speaker Ryan Anthony, principal trumpet of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra/founder of The Ryan Anthony Foundation.

Individual tickets are $150 each; sponsorships begin at $750.  For more information about the Obelisk Awards, visit http://ntbca.org/obelisk or contact Catherine Thompson, 972.991.8300, Ext. 601.

Business Council for the Arts (BCA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 as connector and convenor between businesses, municipalities, and arts and cultural organizations. For 29 years, Business Council for the Arts has advocated for business support of the arts, developed business leaders for nonprofit boards of directors; fostered employee creativity, engagement and creativity through the arts; guided strategic business support for the arts; and measured the economic impact of arts and culture in North Texas.

* Photo provided by Business Council for the Arts

 

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Cabaret Gala

According to Cabaret Gala Co-Chair Marisa Huckin,

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Have you ever dreamed of hearing Idina Menzel, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand all in one night? This is your opportunity to get your fix for the nostalgia of the golden age of entertainment. The Dallas Children’s Theater is celebrating its 25th annual Cabaret Gala with the Dallas debut of YouTube sensation Christina Bianco. Dallas is truly lucky to host a performance by this two-time Drama Desk Award nominated actress, singer, and impressionist!

25th Anniversary Cabaret Gala*

Treat yourself to an evening of song, surprises, and shenanigans while sipping champagne at your candle lit table. You’ll be among the chicest of guests at The Fairmont Hotel as The Dallas Morning News describes the DCT’s Cabaret Gala as”…arguably Dallas’ coolest arts-related fundraiser!”

And speaking of fabulous attendees, the Cabaret Gala’s honorary chairs are steadfast civic supporters, Deborah and Craig Sutton. They will be joined by their uber talented and acclaimed actor son, Montgomery Sutton, who literally grew up on-stage at DCT. As ongtime supporters of the arts, Deanna DiPizio-Johnson and I are sharing the chairmanship duties for this 25th anniversary event.

Before the show you will have a chance to sip cocktails and buy raffle tickets while being charmed by the melodic voice of Dallas’ own Janelle Lutz. Your raffle ticket entitles you the opportunity to win one of four fantastic prizes included in the 2017 Cabaret Gala raffle. The prizes include luxury accommodation and travel packages to New York City, Cancun, and San Francisco, and a jewelry shopping spree. Travel packages include flight accommodations courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

This intimate and entertaining evening of song and escapade is not too be missed! For reservations or raffle ticket information contact Artie Olaison at 214.978.0110 or go to www.dct.org/gala/.

* Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Theater

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Tutu Chic Fashion Show And Luncheon

Marybeth Conlon and Heather LeClair (File photo)

According to By Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon Co-Chairs Marybeth Conlon and Heather LeClair,

Texas Ballet Theater (TBT) and Stanley Korshak are partnering to present the annual Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon. In a unique fashion show, ballet dancers from TBT will dance, leap, and strut the runway on Tuesday, November 28, at the Winspear Opera House.

Back by popular demand, this year’s featured designer is internationally acclaimed Naeem Kahn.

Texas Ballet Theater (File photo)

Tutu Chic is a primary fundraiser for Texas Ballet Theater on behalf of Artistic Director Ben Stevenson, O.B.E. and Executive Director Vanessa Logan.

As the only professional ballet company in our region, and the second oldest in Texas, the Art of Ballet, Access to Ballet and Education of Ballet are priorities for TBT. Your ticket purchase helps ensure we continue to enrich your community with artistic performances, quality dance training and unique outreach programs which offer free introductory ballet instruction to public school students.

If you have any questions regarding your reservation, please contact Development Manager Theresa Ireland-Daubs at 817.763.0207 ext. 111 or by email at [email protected]

Click here for more information.

“Spotlight Gala” Celebrated WaterTower Theatre’s 20th Anniversary By Staging A Gala With Live Auction, Dining And Entertainment, Of Course

WaterTower Theatre‘s annual Spotlight Gala on Saturday, June 3, had a lot to celebrate. In addition to its new Artistic Director Joanie Schultz, the event at the Marriott Quorum Hotel was honoring its past gala chairs as well as the theatre’s turning 20 years old. Longtime supporter Barbara Daseke chaired the evening with dinner, notables, a live auction and a whole bunch of entertainment. But then, what else would you expect from this theatre crowd? Here’s a report from the field:

Barbara Daseke*

WaterTower Theatre held its annual Spotlight Gala on Saturday, June 3, at the Marriott Quorum Hotel in Addison.  Following last year’s celebration of WaterTower Theatre’s 20th Anniversary, this year’s Gala, chaired by Barbara Daseke, honored all of the Company’s past Gala Chairs:  April Bosworth, Anita Braun, Laree Hulshoff, Corky Pledger, Debbie Staggs, Allie Theisen and Barbara Daseke. The Company also honored Liese and Michael Canterbury and Angie and James Canterbury for their family’s legacy and contributions over the years. 

The evening began with cocktails for all of the underwriters and VIP donors, hosted by Barbara Daseke.  Held in the Presidential Suite, the crowd swayed to the jazzy tunes of local favorite Jodi Crawford Wright, accompanied by Jordan Cleaver on cello. Celebrating over two decades of artistic excellence at WaterTower Theatre, guests arrived in a fashion flare ranging from black-tie to elegant summer cocktail wear. Guests at the VIP reception at 6 p.m. and the gala included Jennifer and Coley Clark, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Norma and Paul Shultz, Tom and Anita Braun, Karol Omlor, Jennifer Swift, Addison’s new Mayor Joe Chow and his lovely wife Chi Chi, Margo and Jim Keyes, Eileen and Neil Resnik and special guest of honor, Emmy-Award winning actress and playwright Regina Taylor. For many, this was their first time meeting WaterTower Theatre’s new Artistic Director Joanie Schultz, who attended with her husband, nationally renowned opera conductor Frank Milioto. Corporate sponsors for the 2017 Spotlight Gala included Slalom, Oncor, Frost Bank, and Goody Goody Liquor. 

Tom and Anita Braun, Karol Omlor and Jennifer Swift*

Margo and Jim Keyes*

Liese and Michael Canterbury*

Eileen and Neil Resnik*

The evening included entertainment by Max Hartman, singing tunes reminiscent of “Ole Blue Eyes” while newly elected Addison Mayor Joe Chow and a crowd of attendees danced to standards including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Route 66,” “Mack the Knife,” “Come Fly With Me,” and “New York, New York.”  WaterTower Theatre artists Janelle Lutz and Sarah Elizabeth Price sang tributes to the legendary Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli (characters they have played to high acclaim on DFW stages), as well as a trio with Kyle Igneczi to conclude the night.

The night included a live auction with auctioneer Kyle Igneczi (one of Dallas’ most beloved actors) including a theatre trip for two to Chicago with Artistic Director and Chicago native Joanie Schultz, and a luxury dinner for 10 at the Addison’s renowned Table 13.  The evening concluded with an exhilarating “Fund The Mission” where virtually everyone in attendance played the “runaround” game vying for a theatre trip for two to Toronto!

Underwriters included:

  • Executive Producer ($12,000) — Barbara and Don Daseke, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Janiece and Jimmy Niemann and Norma and Paul Shultz
  • The Producer ($6,000) — Rosalind and Mervyn Benjet, Liese and Michael Canterbury, Angie and James Canterbury and Larry McCallum
  • The Director ($3,000) — The Town of Addison, Frost Bank, April Bosworth, Goody Goody Liquor Inc., Stan Graner and Jim McBride, Rodney Hand / Addison Magazine, Mary Kay Inc., Robert Mayer Jr., Kathleen A. Messina and Gary W. Goodwin, Karol Omlor, Oncor/Grace Daniels, Gregory Patterson and Eileen and Neil Resnik
  • Valet parking underwritten by Slalom.
  • Patron Gift underwritten by Mary Kay Inc. and Addison Magazine
  • Cork Pull and Tabletop Wine sponsored Goody Goody Liquor, Inc.
  • VIP Patron and Underwriter’s party sponsored by the Marriott Quorum, Addison
  • Gala Signage provided by FASTSIGNS, Carrollton
  • Gala Program provided by AlphaGraphics, Carrollton 

Guests drove off with a special gift basket courtesy of Mary Kay and Addison Magazine.

* Photo provided by WaterTower Theatre

Nancy Nasher And David Haemisegger Hosted A Reception For One Of The Late Ray Nasher’s Brainchild “Business Committee For The Arts”

When the late Ray Nasher dreamt up the idea of the North Texas business community partnering up with the visual and performing arts 28 years ago, the Business Committee for the Arts came to life. It was a glorious gathering of local executive and committee leaders like Jack Evans, Al Casey, Ted Enloe, Stan Richards, Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler, Howard Hallam, Richard Marcus, Henry S. Miller Jr., Burl Osborne, Liener Temerlin and a host of others, who served as founding members.

Over the years, the organization’s name changed to Business Council for the Arts and Ray’s daughter, Nancy Nasher, took up family support of the program.

Larry Glasgow

Kevin Hurst

On Thursday, May 25, Nancy and her husband David Haemisegger hosted a party at the Nasher Sculpture Center for BCA supporters like Kevin Hurst, Sarah and Dallas Film Society CEO/President Lee Papert, Dotti Reeder, BCA Chair Larry Glasgow and BCA CEO Katherine Wagner. While David was surrounded three deep in the garden by well-wishers, Nancy was greeting guests in the Center. Upon seeing Dallas Symphony Orchestra trumpeter Ryan Anthony, the petite Nancy smiled like a firefly. It was with good reason. Seems that the week of Cancer Blows benefiting Baylor Health Care System Foundation and Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation through The Ryan Anthony Foundation, Ryan had had a relapse of his multiple myeloma.

Ryan Anthony, Nancy Nasher and Jonathan Martin

Nancy and David had been the honorary co-chairs for the May 8-10 gathering of world-renowned horn players.

But as Ryan told Nancy, due to funding and research, more developments had taken place to treat the deadly disease.

As Nancy, Ryan and his wife Niki Anthony and Dallas Symphony Orchestra CEO/President Jonathan Martin toured the Roni Horn glass sculpture exhibition, an onlooker commented, “Nancy looks so at ease and comfortable.” Perhaps it’s due to her feeling right at home filling Ray’s shoes.

Less than three weeks later Jonathan announced his taking a job in a Cincinnati, and Lee’s leaving the Dallas Film Society.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: State Of Mind

According to Second Thought Theatre‘s State of Mind Co-Chairs Jennifer Swift and Nick Even,

Nick Even (File photo)

Jennifer Swift (File photo)

In case you’ve not been yet, Second Thought Theatre is a risk-taking local company performing at Bryant Hall, an intimate black-box theater on the Kalita Humphreys Theater campus on Turtle Creek. Second Thought’s current production of the new play “The Necessities” by SMU’s (and Yale’s) Blake Hackler, directed by Joel Ferrell runs until Saturday, July 29. 

To fund its expanded four-production season for 2018, Second Thought will host its annual “State of Mind” fundraiser on Friday, November 3, at 7:00 p.m. at Sammons Center for the Arts.

The evening will feature a performance by Dallas performance musical theater powerhouse Patty Breckenridge, described by D Magazine as “utterly entertaining.” She was heralded by The Dallas Morning News for her “brilliant” portrayal of Diana in “Next to Normal” (Uptown Players).  She was seen in the world premiere of “Fortress of Solitude” at Dallas Theatre Center and WaterTower Theatre’s world premiere of “Creep, delivering a performance described by the Morning News as a “feisty force of nature.” Ms. Breckenridge will be joined at the State of Mind gala by actor, TV host and producer Rob McCollum, serving as Master of Ceremonies.

A kickoff party for State of Mind underwriters and patrons will be held on Thursday, October 12, at the Turtle Creek home of Lila and Emmett Murphy.

Second Thought Theatre empowers top local theater artists to take risks and showcases writers who tackle difficult questions. Its performers have been regularly cited on the annual “Best of” lists by D Magazine, Dallas Observer and the Dallas/Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum. Second Thought’s 2017 season included two area premieres and one world premiere and its 2018 season of four plays – to be announced in the next month – promises to be equally memorable.

For more information on Second Thought Theatre, visit http://secondthoughttheatre.com. To purchase tickets for the State of Mind gala or to be added to the invitation mailing list, call 972.450.6232.

 

JUST IN: Wanda Gierhart And Dean Fearing To Co-Chair TACA 50th Anniversary Gala

Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart (File photo)

Former Neiman Marcus exec Wanda Gierhart and her fiancé/chef extraordinaire “Dean of Food” Fearing are quite a twosome. Back in 2014, their official joint-project debut was the TACA Custom Auction and what a night it was. The front row was filled with art-loving philanthropists with names like Carlson, Hobson and Brierley.

So, when Wanda, who is chairing TACA’s 50th anniversary year celebration, decided that she would roll up her silk sleeves and chair the black-tie TACA 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, September 8, at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, she sorta got nostalgic and brilliant. She drafted Dean to co-chair it with her.

As for the auction itself, don’t expect dozens of items up for bid. Word has it that it’s going to a very limited number and they’ll be very special.

BTW, the years that Wanda was in charge of curating the auction items were years that brought some very platinum paddles competing for the final bids. ‘Twas great sightseeing!

TACA Lexus Party On The Green Felt Right At Home In Its New Sammons Park Setting With Performers, Ice Carvings And Chefs Galore

Like a family realizing that perhaps they need to expand their residence, TACA organizers had determined that, as part of its year-long, 50th anniversary celebration, the annual  TACA Lexus Party On The Green needed a change. So, after years at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, they moved the outdoor fundraiser to Sammons Park in the AT&T Performing Arts District on Friday, May 12. It was nothing against the Mansion. After all, they were going to have the 50th Anniversary Gala at the Mansion on Friday, September 8.

With both the Artscape Award and Auction Dinner at the Arboretum and the Party On The Green taking place outdoors on the same night, Mother Nature was in a kindly state of mind and provided spectacular weather.

Tia Wynne, Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart

Katherine Wynne

POG Co-Chairs Katherine Wynne and Tia Wynne had orchestrated a beautiful setting with a backdrop of the very green grass shaded by grown-up trees. Giant lit white balloons hovered over each of the tented chef’s stations. Tabletops were gowned in TACA green and chairs wrapped with pashminas (some salmon-colored, others turquoise, still others emerald-green). An artist with a power saw sprayed ice chips as he carved “50” into two massive blocks of ice on a mini-stage. A ginormous lit balloon with Lexus TACA Party On the Green floated on the reflecting pool. Adirondack chairs were perfectly positioned on the lawn, with flawless views of the action in the pool.  

2017 Lexus TACA Party On the Green

Ice carver

Dawn Spalding

Dancers in reflecting pool

Of course, like any move to new surroundings, there were the expected “oops.” For instance, the PA seemed at times loud enough to be heard in Deep Ellum. Pleasant conversations required ramping up the vocal chords to compete with the myriad of announcements and actors and musicians.

At times, there seemed to be an overly aggressive push for the performing arts. While the dance in the pond was indeed captivating, the theatrical production on stage with Booker T. Washington as a backdrop was a smash … for those within eyesight. For those grazing near the Meyerson, it was a jumble of verbal clutter, just as it was at the last Silver Cup Luncheon.

Michael and Amy Meadows and Charmaine and George Tang

Hal and Diane Brierley

Chris Heinbaugh and Nannette and Tracy Fitz

Alex Laurenzi and Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi, David Tripplehorn-Cash and Merrick and Stuart Huckin

Even those little snafus couldn’t hold back the 700 or so art-loving guests, like Amy and Michael Meadows, Charmaine and George Tang, TACA President/Executive Director Wolford McCue with wife Cheryl McCue, Diane and Hal Brierley, Ron Corning, Chris Heinbaugh, Nannette and Tracy Fitz, Simona Beal with her posse (Ed and Henny Wright, Bob Gibbs and Matthew Wilson), WaterTower’s Greg Patterson and Joanie Schultz, Lisa and Bill Ogle, Doris and Jack Jacobs, Dawn Spalding, Dean Driver, Holly Reed, Susan Arledge, Marsha Getto-Aikens, Rachel and John Michell, Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi and Alex Laurenzi, David Tripplehorn-Cash, Merrick and Stuart Huckin, Paige McDaniel with Joe B Clark and Leslie Crozier

Ed and Henny Wright, Bob Gibbs, Simona Beal and Matthew Wilson

Greg Patterson and Joanie Schultz

Paige McDaniel and Joe B Clark

Lisa and Bill Ogle

Susan Arledge and Marsha Getto-Aikens

Snapshots of the scene included Mark Edgar giving a thumb’s-up for Chelsea Corner Chef Sara Griffin’s Road House Burger with truffle fries, which was getting a major top rating from many. Sara’s secret? She uses three types of meat… Rosewood Mansion’s Chef Nicolas Blouin‘s chocolate bar was a confectionary feast for the eyes and taste buds. Earlier in the day, Nicolas had been the one bright spot in a not-so-favorable review of the Mansion by the Dallas Morning News foodie Leslie Brenner…. Parigi Chef Janice Provost on her first outing at the POG decked out her tent with roses and cups set in faux grass filled with savory basil panna cotta with baby tomatoes and pesto… Sissy’s Chef Lisa Garza-Selcer was a bit frazzled during the VIP party, due to her late arrival. When asked how her baby was doing, the brunette replied, “I don’t know.” … Salum Chef Sader Matheis was subbing in for Chef Abraham Salum, who was in Lebanon with his father… Knife Chef John Tesar was all smiles over the sales of his new book, “Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home.” A recent signing at the Highland Dallas Hotel had drawn 200, John explained, and he was excited about expanding his Knife empire to Plano, San Francisco, and Denver…. Equally happy was Chef Dean Fearing with fiancée Wanda Gierhart, who is chairing TACA’s 50th anniversary, year-long celebration…  Laura Elcock reported that, earlier in the day, she’d had lunch with an old artist friend, who presented her with a portrait of Laura’s and husband Walter’s daughter… Michelle de Metz turned heads as she strolled past the tents with her leashed pooch.  

Nicolas Blouin

Nicolas Blouin dish

Lisa Garza-Selcer

John Tesar

Janice Provost

Janice Provost dish

Laura and Walter Elcock

Michelle de Metz

For more photos of the faces and food, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Lexus TACA Party On The Green

Tia Wynne, Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhardt

Katherine Wynne

Michael and Amy Meadows and Charmaine and George Tang

In celebrating its 50 years of supporting the performing arts, TACA has been undergoing some changes like expanding its fundraising efforts to include the visual arts. Another big change was its annual Lexus TACA Party On The Green that for ages has taken place at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.

Lisa Garza-Selcer

John Tesar

Janice Provost

Nicolas Blouin

But on Friday, May 12, the whole kit and caboodle was relocated to Sammons Park in the Arts District. Made perfect sense and resulted in success, with loads of the pretty peeps grazing from food station to food station and dancers, singers, actors and musicians performing throughout the night.

Dancers

While the post is being written, the photos are ready for you to check out at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery now!

JUST IN: JPMorgan Chase Exec Michelle Thomas To Chair TACA Board Starting January 1, 2018

It’s just been announced that JPMorgan Chase VP of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations Michelle Thomas will become TACA’s board chair. She will succeed current chair Donna Wilhelm on January 1, 2018, and will hold the position until December 31, 2019.

Michelle Thomas*

According to Donna, “We are thrilled that Michelle will chair the board of directors, and I know TACA will be in excellent hands with her at the helm. Michelle has a rare combination of leadership abilities, strategic insight and skills that will help elevate TACA and its mission of providing financial support and resources to the arts.”

Michelle is well-acquainted with both TACA and the importance of North Texas fundraising, having been “responsible for managing a multi-million dollar corporate giving budget for the Dallas-Fort Worth and Oklahoma regions. She is also responsible for implementing the firm’s strategic approach to philanthropy, which is multifaceted and aims to address community needs in the local market.”

Having served on TACA’s board, Michelle has chaired the TACA Silver Cup Luncheon.

Michelle commented, “I am honored to lead TACA, which has focused on transforming lives through the arts for 50 years. With TACA expanding its grants to include the visual arts, as well as creating a social impact fund, it’s an exciting time to work with the other board members to help lead the organization to even greater heights.”

Her volunteer efforts have included serving on the Advisory Board of the Center for Nonprofit Management, Junior League of Dallas and the Kipp DFW Council, Board of Directors for the Methodist Health Foundation and the UT Southwestern Medical Foundation. 

The Dallas native’s collection of accolades include 2014 Minority Business Leader in the Dallas Business Journal and being the recipient of the 2015 Business and Civic Leader award from the Dallas Black Dance Theater, the 2015 Income Award from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the 2017 Heritage Award from the African American Museum.  Under her leadership, JPMorgan Chase was named Outstanding Corporation of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2015.

* Photo credit: James Edward

Grovel Alert: 31st Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon

It’s getting down to the bare nitty gritty. The 31st Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon on Friday, June 23, at the Anatole is just a hair’s breadth from being filled to capacity. With “Hamilton’s” Christopher Jackson as the featured speaker for the event benefiting Junior Players, it’s no wonder.

Christopher Jackson*

According to Junior Players’ Executive Director Rosaura Cruz-Webb, “Junior Players is celebrating its nearly sold out status with a Luncheon Ticket Lottery in the spirit of Hamilton: An American Musical and Junior Players’ mission to provide free arts education programs. Through the Luncheon Ticket Lottery, people who are passionate about the arts can be ‘in the room where it happens’ to hear a star of Hamilton. This, of course, was inspired by the fabled Hamilton Ticket Lottery on Broadway, in which theater fans can enter the lottery for a chance to get a pair of front row tickets to Hamilton for $10 a person. A Hamilton for Hamilton.”

The ASC Luncheon Ticket Lottery will take place on Thursday, June 15, at V-Eats Modern Vegan at Trinity Groves. Lottery entrees will start at 6 p.m. with the drawings taking place at 7:30. Here’s the trick — if your ticket is pulled, then you “will be able to receive the ticket for an optional donation of $10.” Adding to the pluses of winning, two of the ticket winners will have the opportunity to meet Christopher.

The lottery event is open to the public with V-Eats providing food and drink specials with 15% of orders benefiting Junior Players. For entertainment, there will be performances by the Junior Players, of course.

But if you’re not feeling all that lucky, then go ahead and get one of the few remaining seats here.

* Photo provided by Junior Players

George Washington Will Be Subbing In For “Hamilton’s” Sister-In-Law At Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon

There was a chance of kicking off the three-day Memorial Day weekend with some disappointing news. However, it turned out to be good news.

Let’s get the bad stuff over with first: The Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole on Friday, June 23, was to have Renée Elise Goldsberry, who played Alexander Hamilton’s sis-in-law from “Hamilton.” Yup, you read it — “was.”

According to Luncheon Co-Chair Kara Altenbaumer-Price, “We learned yesterday that an unavoidable scheduling conflict had arisen for Ms. Goldsberry and she is no longer able to serve as the 2017 ASC Luncheon Speaker.”

Well, double darn it. But, wait! Here comes the good news.

Christopher Jackson*

Kara reports, “While a change at this late date is not what we would have wished for, we are excited to announce that Christopher Jackson, who originated the role of George Washington in the Broadway production of ‘Hamilton,’ has graciously agreed to step into the role of luncheon speaker on short notice. Mr. Jackson was awarded a Grammy and nominated for a Tony for his role in ‘Hamilton.’  He won a Drama Desk Award for his role in ‘Hamilton’-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s last show, In ‘The Heights,’ as Benny.”

How did they manage to land Christopher? Luncheon Co-Chair Beth Bedell reported, “Rather than simply cancelling when it became clear that her current project would not wrap on time, Renée took responsibility and personally secured Christopher as her replacement.”

In addition to appearing in “The Lion King,” “Memphis,” “After Midnight” and “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” Christopher has also been seen on “The Good Wife,” “Bull” and “Oz,” as well as being “nominated for three Emmy Awards for composing music and lyrics for television and winning the ‘Outstanding Original Song’ Emmy Award in 2011 for his lyrics to ‘What I Am,’ which he co-wrote for ‘Sesame Street’ with Bill Sherman.”

So, keep Friday, June 23, inked in, because instead of a sister, a father of this country is going to be speaking to benefit the Junior Players.

* Photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

Business Council For The Arts Is Calling All Art Heroes For Obelisk Awards

Each year the Business Council for the Arts presents its Obelisk Awards at a luncheon to “honor businesses, business leaders, arts/cultural leaders and nonprofit organizations who have significantly advanced arts and culture in North Texas.”

Event Co-Chairs Thai-lan Tran and Steven Roth have just announced that nominations are now open.

Exactly what does it take to be a nominee? Here’s a breakdown of the requirements for your consideration:

For Businesses:

  • The New Initiatives Award recognizes businesses for supporting an innovative arts/cultural program created within the past three years. Awards are given to one large, medium and small business each.
  • The Arts Partnerships Award recognizes businesses that have provided sustained support to an arts/cultural organization for three or more years. Awards are given to one large, medium and small business each. A business may only win the Arts Partnership Award once every two years.
  • The Arts Education Award recognizes one outstanding business for its support of arts education programs.

For Individual Business Leaders:

  • The Business Champion for the Arts Award recognizes long-term leadership and commitment to arts/culture by a business executive (president, CEO, partner).
  • The Outstanding Leadership Arts Alumnus Award recognizes outstanding board leadership and commitment by a graduate of the Leadership Arts Institute.

For Individual Arts/Cultural Leaders:

  • The Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader Award recognizes an arts leader who has consistently demonstrated vision, impact, innovation, and successful alignment with business and community partners throughout their tenure.

For Nonprofit Arts/Cultural Organizations:

  • The Distinguished Cultural Organization Award is given by Neiman Marcus to recognize one outstanding nonprofit organization for a project or program that has enhanced the community through partnership with a business.

Larry Glasgow (File photo)

According to BCA Board of Directors Chair Larry Glasgow, “For more than a quarter century, the Obelisk Awards have been the symbol of excellence recognizing support of the arts in our community.  Past recipients include visionaries who represent diverse industries, each one making a unique contribution to our cultural vibrancy and quality of life. With the exponential growth of the arts in North Texas, we believe that this year’s nominations will include long-time arts supporters as well as the new and innovative.”

The awardees will be celebrated at the 29th annual Obelisk Awards luncheon at Belo Mansion on Wednesday, November 15.

The deadline for nomination submissions is Wednesday, June 21. That’s less than a month away, so put on those thinking caps and make the world know about an art hero.  Here’s a link for the nomination form.

2017 Junior Cattle Barons Ball Celebrants Created Pillow Artwork Before Attending Disney On Ice At American Airlines Center

As the princesses and princes lined up at American Airlines Center for the Disney on Ice performance on Sunday, March 19, there was a VIP gathering already underway at AAC’s Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club for the ultimate royals. They were the kids from Children’s Health and Children’s Medical Center who had locked horns with the ultimate dragon — cancer.

But they weren’t just there to see the show and get on a sugar high with jelly beans, M&Ms and malt balls as part of the Junior Cattle Baron’s Ball. They were put to work, but it was fun work.  Immediately upon arrival, they picked up the pillow cases provided by Luke’s Fastbreak and were directed to tables to decorate ‘em.

Finished pillow case

Hello? Pillow cases? Instead of past years, when the kiddos got their faces temporarily painted, they got to decorate the pillows for keeps. After all, who wants to sleep on a ho-hum pillow? It was a brilliant addition to the annual pre-show extravaganza at the center. The children and their siblings didn’t hesitate to start decorating. Why, shoot! Some of them were dreamy works with art/heart that couldn’t help but create sweet dreams.

Caroline Corrigan, Rosemary LeBlanc and Sarah Munir

Anne Stodghill and Dash Stodghill

Behind the tables were junior hostesses Caroline Corrigan, Rosemary LeBlanc and Sarah Munir. Despite her tan line, Rosemary reported that she had stayed home for spring break.

CBB Co-Chair Anne Stodghill accompanied by her tousle-hair son Dash Stodghill told how their stay in New Mexico had been spent counting out-of-town license plants for Dash’s third-grade project.

The Williams clan: (from the left) Whitney, Jamie and Craig, Graham, Georgia, Andrew, Derrin, Lanier, Mary and Kate

Merrick Huckin, Debbie Munir, Catherine Jaynes, Juliana LeBlanc and Mary C. Corrigan

Just as the doors opened for the afternoon fun on ice, Moody Foundation Human Resources  Director Jamie Williams arrived with her Williams family (Whitney, Craig, Graham, Georgia, Andrew, Derrin, Lanier, Mary and Kate) in tow. It was thanks to The Moody Foundation that the event took place and also thanks to coordination by CBB-ers Merrick Huckin, Debbie Munir, Catherine Jaynes, Juliana LeBlanc and Mary C. Corrigan.

JUST IN: TACA To Undertake Three Major Initiatives Including The Funding For Both The Performing … And Visual Arts!

Back when TACA started, North Texas’ art community was pretty limited. The arts were largely contained at Fair Park with the opera and musicals taking place in the Music Hall and the visual arts at the Dallas Museum of Arts facility near the lagoon. The Fair Park band shell with its nighttime performances and flying insects created memorable moments for singers. The Dallas Theater Center’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kalita Humphreys Theater along Turtle was considered the new hottie in the world of art.  

But that was way back when. As TACA celebrates its 50th anniversary, changes are definitely underway for TACA’s next 50 years to support the overwhelming wealth of art groups in North Texas.

Donna Wilhelm (File photo)

This morning, TACA Chairman of the Board of Directors Donna Wilhelm sent a note to the stakeholders about three new initiatives for TACA.

Of the trio, the one that pops to the top of the list is “TACA Funding All Of The Arts In Dallas.” In the past, TACA has only provided funding for the performing arts. But in the future it will also support the visual arts. Before it kicks into place, the criteria for submitting grants requests will be developed and published toward the end of 2017. The deadline for the letters of intent will be Friday, February 1, 2018. The grants for both the visual and performing art groups will be presented in January 2019.

According to Donna, “For 50 years, TACA has funded the performing arts.  However our current Board of Directors has expansive vision—we will now add support of the visual arts. And we will foster arts experience that impacts social change in our North Texas community.”

The other two initiatives, are

  • “Social Impact Through The Arts” — TACA will establish “funds to foster the creation of new performing arts works and innovative performing arts residence programs” focusing on cultural and racial equity, cross-sector partnerships, arts education focusing on under-resourced communities, cross-cultural community collaboration and social change capacity building.
  • “Increased Vibrancy Of The Arts” — TACA will “lead a multi-year effort to empower and expand” the number of artists and arts organizations. The intention is two-fold:
    • To make the Dallas area a destination for performers, visual artists, musicians, writers, directors, backstage professionals, etc.
    • To create an environment that encourages the launch and nurturing of new arts organizations.

To achieve these goals, TACA will “develop a blueprint to learn and adapt strategies” that have been undertaken in other cities and “recreate the best of the best in Dallas, and enhance the impact through collaborative partnerships.”

Donna explained, “TACA is deeply committed to an expansive arts vibrancy in North Texas. We assure our donors, prospective donors and arts organizations that, for over half a century, we have established a grants review process that evaluates, selects and supports the very best organizations.  Every contributed dollar invested in TACA will indeed transform lives through the arts.”

JUST IN: Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon To Benefit Junior Players With “Hamilton”‘s Renée Elise Goldsberry As Keynote Speaker

Cancel any and all plans for summer vacation. Well, at least, plan on being in town on Friday, June 23. Attorneys Serving the Community have such a reason for staying put on that Friday for lunch.

They’ve really tied things together for the 31st Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole. First, this year’s beneficiary is the award-winning Junior Players, which is the oldest non-profit children’s theater organization in Dallas. Originally offering “traditional children’s theater productions performed entirely by children and teenagers,” it changed its direction in 1989 by “providing free programming accessible to all the children of North Texas.”

Attorneys Serving the Community beneficiary Junior Players*

According to Dallas Morning News theater expert Nancy Churnin, Junior Players is “not just the play that’s the thing at Junior Players. It’s the way the company puts kids first by making quality lessons and performances free for 4,000 kids a year.”

Great pick, but who would be the on-target speaker for such an event benefiting young theatrical types by legal experts? Hold on to your petticoats and breeches. Luncheon Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price managed to land Tony Award-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who originated the role of Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church in “Hamilton: The Revolution.” Just this past fall, she took leave of the Linn-Manuel Miranda hit.

Renée Elise Goldsberry*

But don’t think Renee is a one-note actress. This multi-talented and gorgeous gal is a perfect role model for young, aspiring performers. In addition to Broadway successes (“The Lion King,” “The Color Purple” and “Rent”) and numerous flat screen appearances, (“Ally McBeal,” “One Life To Live,” “Law And Order: Special Victims Unit,” “The Good Wife,” etc.), she’s now headed to the 25th century for Netflix’s 10-episode sci-fi drama “Altered Carbon” as Quellcrist Falconer.  In addition to theatrical and screen productions, she’s even been in the Super Bowl, where she and her Broadway sister updated “America the Beautiful.”

Outside of the theater and studio, Renee has a real life with attorney-husband Alexis Johnson and her two kiddos Benjamin and Brielle.

Trivia: The luncheon will have a tinge of irony. It will be a get-together for onstage Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law (aka Renée) with U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr’s descendant Jennifer Burr Altabef. If you skipped American History 101, Hamilton was killed in a duel with Burr nearly 213 years ago.

According to Jennifer, who along with her husband, Peter Altabef, are serving as luncheon honorary co-chairs, “Peter and I are thrilled to be honorary chairs for this event benefiting Junior Players, a vital arts resource for young people and a treasure in our community. We are looking forward to the event featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry, whose electrifying performance in ‘Hamilton’ brought to life the incredible story of the birth of our country. Aaron Burr was a part of that story, and in ‘Hamilton,’ the audience learns so much about him and his complex relationship with Alexander Hamilton.”

Mark Friday, June 23, as a “must-stay-in-Dallas” to see and hear from this lady, who “kicked failure’s ass.”

Sponsorships and tables are available here. Individual tickets, if there are any, will be up for grabs in May.

* Graphic and photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

Susan Albritton And Lauren Embrey Join Kitchen Dog Theater’s Capital Campaign As Honorary Co-Chairs

The 10,000-square-foot former Presidio Tile in Dallas’ North Design District is going through a major transformation. By the end of 2018/early 2019, it will be the new “permanent” home of Kitchen Dog Theater complete with a 140-seat performance space, offices and a rehearsal space.

Over the past 26 years, KDT has had a variety of home bases including McKinney Avenue Contemporary aka “The Mac” (1994-2015), The Green Zone (2015-2016) and Trinity River Arts Center (TRAC) for the current season.

According to KDT Co-Artistic Director Tina Parker, “Theater companies like ours around the country are challenged by the whims of the local real estate market, so we are extremely grateful to be able to put down permanent roots in our hometown. This development gives us the financial and emotional security to continue our artist-driven mission — to provide a place where questions of justice, morality and human freedom can be explored — for many more years to come.”

Ah, but such an undertaking takes more than good intentions. In this case, it takes $3M and the KDT group has undertaken a capital campaign to achieve that goal.

Capital Campaign KDT Founding Company Member Sally Nysteun-Vahle, longtime KDT Board Member/former Board Chair Paul Barnes and Board Chair Jerry Neisel have just revealed that the purchase of the property was made thanks to $975,000 from The Real Estate Council Community Fund, The Communities Foundation of Texas, The Harold Simmons Foundation and private donors.

Susan H. Albritton*

Lauren Embrey*

They also announced that they have arranged to have The Embrey Family Foundation President/Philanthropic Visionary Lauren Embrey and philanthropist Susan Albritton to serve as honorary co-chairs.

According to KDT Managing Director Tim Johnson, “We are delighted to have these two wonderful community leaders as honor chairs. They join our campaign chairs and a committee of dedicated supporters, all working to help ensure that Kitchen Dog continues to present theater that provokes, challenges and amazes our audience for another 26 years.”

In the meantime, KDT will hold its 2017-2017 season at The Trinity River Arts Center on Stemmons Freeway.

A Passing: Fred Wiedemann

Dallas is filled with outstanding people. Some are above-the-fold making news frequently. Others are like delicious secrets, whose amazing life stories only come to light after their deaths. Fred Wiedemann was such a man. For those who had the opportunity to know him before his death on Friday, January 20, his 93 years of life were the stuff many just dream of.

Fred Wiedemann (File photo)

Born in New York City in 1923, he was raised on the West Coast in Hollywood. Just six months after Pearl Harbor he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, where he became a Japanese interpreter and excelled academically and in sports. Just months before his graduation in 1945, he met a fourth-generation Texan who would be the love of his life — Florence “Flo” Leachman. Following an assignment in Japan in 1947 he resigned his commission, moved to Dallas, married Flo at Highland Park United Methodist Church and undertook a 50-year career in the life insurance business.

In addition to helping establish the highly successful The Wiedemann and Johnson Companies, he was involved with the up-and-coming arts (the boards of Theater Three and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and chairman of the Dallas Civic Opera Guild) and education (chairman of the St. Marks School executive committee, trustee and chairman of the Southwest Outward Bound School and on the boards of the Colorado Outward Bound School and National Outward Bound) programs.

Fred’s passports were filled with stamps from Canada, Patagonia, Tasmania, Nepal, Chile, New Guinea, Costa Rica and Japan, to name just a few. His wanderlust knew no bounds and he was eager to share the experiences. And, those trips weren’t just bus tours of the local landmarks. No, with family and friends Fred would trek, kayak, camp and take adventures.

According to his family, “the greatest, most wonderful adventure was when Fred planned a 15-month sabbatical in Europe, living in Zurich, Switzerland, to celebrate his and Flo’s 20th wedding anniversary. Their three sons [Frederic, Harden and Jon] went to schools there, and Flo began her Jungian studies at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich. Together there, Fred and Flo continued pursuit of their life-long love of opera, especially Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Fred spent his time in Switzerland on the couch being analyzed, skiing, learning flamenco guitar, and writing, with the latter two endeavors being singularly unsuccessful (according to Fred). Nonetheless the Jungian analytical process provided him with a seismic shift of consciousness and a grounding that he valued very much for the rest of his life.”

And the Wiedemann boys followed their father’s love for living a far-from-the-mundane routine. For instance, after graduating from St. Marks, Jon went to Harvard, became a Calvin Klein model, married actress Isabella Rossellini, producing daughter/model/actress Elletra Wiedemann, and went on to become an executive with Microsoft.

For those lucky enough to have attended a get-together at the Wiedemanns’ Preston Hollow ranch-style home filled with Japanese art, one just never knew what to expect. It might include a visiting best-selling author, a world-renowned educator or an artist, whose fame was just in the incubation stage. Why, D Magazine considered Flo and Fred to be one of Dallas’ “Heavenly Hosts and Best Guests.”

In reviewing his nine decades, Fred “acknowledged that he had made his share of mistakes and had tried to learn from them, but that his life had vastly exceeded any expectations he might have had. He felt it had been one ‘helluva’ ride, and he was so very grateful to have been aboard.”

Fred’s life will be celebrated at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, at Serenity House at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church. Just imagine what wonderful stories will be shared.

JUST IN: Multi-Talented Bernadette Peters Will Headline The Dallas Summer Musicals 2017 Gala In November

Bernadette Peters*

She’s the favorite of Stephen Sondheim, best buds with Mary Tyler Moore and has more curls than a bushel of rotini. She’s been in show biz since she was 3½ and got her Actors Equity Card at the ripe old age of 9. She’s appeared on TV, Broadway and the silver screen.  She’s written children’s books, dated Steve Martin and appeared in Playboy Magazine in lingerie designed by Bob Mackie.

She is multi-talented Bernadette Peters and she will be headlining the Dallas Summer Musical fundraiser at Fair Park’s Music Hall on Saturday, November 4.

Since “An Evening With Bernadette Peters” will benefit the Dallas Summer Musicals and its education and community outreach programs, it’s especially poignant to have TI executives Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld co-chairing the event.

Andy Smith and Paul von Wupperfeld**

Each has childhood memories of attending the Dallas Summer Musicals and the long-lasting impressions they took away.

According to Paul, “Going to Dallas Summer Musicals at Fair Park with my grandmother was my first exposure to ‘real’ theatre on the big stage. Learning the stories and hearing the music instilled a love for the stage in me that endures to this day. I am thrilled at the opportunity to help another generation experience that same magic.”

As for Andy, he recalled, “My 16th birthday present was a trip from Tyler to see the DSM production of ‘Camelot.’ We (Paul and Andy) both fell in love with musical theater through DSM, and we’ve also seen how DSM has touched the lives of youth in our community through their outreach and education programs.”

While individual tickets are not available (drat!), sponsorships and underwriting opportunities can be discovered by calling the DSM Development office at 214.426.6333.

* Photo credit: Andrew Eccles 
** Photo provided by Dallas Summer Musicals