Tradition is a wonderful thing. And the TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon exemplifies just that. Founder Annette Strauss envisioned it as an occasion to salute a man and a woman for “their outstanding contributions to the arts in Dallas.”
So, despite school closings and black ice popping up in the most unlikely spots, the TACA crowd braved the wintry-weather encore and gathered at the Hilton Anatole on Monday, March 3, to attend the 36th TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon presented by J.P. Morgan and Neiman Marcus.
With valet parkers wearing sock caps bracing against below-freezing temperatures and gusty winds, the performing arts crowd hustled on in to celebrate Holly Mayer’s and Lucilio Peña’s receiving the “silver cups.”
As guests attended the reception in the lobby outside the Grand Ballroom, past TACA Silver Cup recipients and VIP’s came together in the Plum Room across the way.
Just as the clock was ticking down, TACA President/Executive Director Becky Young asked, “Where is Lucilio?” Yes, the male recipient was nowhere to be seen. He’d been there just moments before with his mother Maria Elena Peña, sister Maria Eugenia Peña, niece Gabriela Peña and partner Lee Cobb. But now he had vanished. And they couldn’t hold the private unboxing of the silver cups without him.
On the other hand, female Silver Cup recipient Holly was following orders, staying put and talking with friends.
It began looking like a back-up plan might be necessary. But, wait! Through the door Lucilio appeared.
As the past recipients gathered around knowing the drill, the newbies tore through the silver Neiman Marcus boxes wrapped with ribbons like kids on Christmas morning.
Actually, Lucilio did have some help opening the box, thanks to niece Gabriela.
No sooner had the recipients and cups been photographed than the cups were whisked away for official display at the lunch, and Holly and Lucilio took their seats of honor on the couch surrounded by the past recipients for the annual group photo.
Determined not to be late for the photo was a radiant J.P. Morgan Chase Chair Elaine Agather, who arrived just minutes too late two years ago for the photo. . . Diane Brierley was receiving birthday congratulations. . . Tincy Miller and Caroline Rose Hunt were seated together comparing notes. . . Lynn McBee and Kern Wildenthal were talking about the History-Making Texans event in Austin the previous Saturday honoring Ruth Altshuler and Ross Perot.
Keeping to the schedule, the Plum Room entourage made their way to the Grand Ballroom, where two mini-stages with musical instruments were set up among the sea of tables and one large stage with piano was in place in front of the head table.
Just a little after noon, when guests had taken their seats and were settling down to a luncheon of Moroccan spiced beef tenderloin salad, overhead emergency lights starts flashing. No one seemed bothered by the blinking lights as they continued eating and chatting. A few minutes later, the lights stopped. Outside the ballroom, Anatole staffers dressed for outside conditions got together and assured all that it was just a false alarm.
As if on cue, the musicians of the Lone Star Wind Orchestra Horn Quartet performed on one of the mini-stages. No sooner had they completed their performance than the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra String Quartet took over on the other mini-stage.
Then Mistress of Ceremonies Lee Cullum took over, providing her typical humor and insight in her annual “state of the Dallas arts” commentary:
- One Arts Plaza — “It lives in love and harmony with its neighbors.”
- “You may have seen the lights that were flashing earlier. I thought Tod Machover was back in town.”
- The rumored Broadway production of “King Kong” coming to Dallas — “Wouldn’t it be exciting if King Kong wound up on top of Museum Tower? (Applause) Of course, by then it may have an additional life as a solar power generating station. But you know there’s a way out of this. The Nasher could save a lot on their electricity bills. . . We’re hoping for good things on that front!”
- The Glendennings are everywhere. If you don’t know that, you must be a hopeless recluse.”
Lee was then followed by remarks by
- Elaine, who said that TACA is necessary to create a vital community to attract jobs.
- Silver Cup Award Luncheon Co-Chairs Carol and Don Glendenning, who reported that this year’s event had become “one of the two most economically successful luncheons in the past 35 years.”
- TACA Chairman of the Board Nancy Carlson told of the $1.3M in grants that had been distributed in January to 46 performing arts groups.
- Neiman Marcus’ VP Ginger Reeder, who introduced the NM Performing Arts Scholarship recipients soprano Audra Methvin, tenor Jeawook Lee and pianist Jason Smith performing “O soave fanciulla” from “La Boheme.” The performance was just perfect — beautifully executed, not too long, not too short.
Once again following tradition the 2013 Silver Cup Award male recipient (in this case, Roger Nanney) introduced Holly.
In her acceptance speech, Holly recalled how she grew up in the arts. One of her first experiences was being in the grade-school production of “Hansel and Gretel,” but she was caught nibbling on the candy house. The death of her 10-year-old daughter caused Holly to seek escape and seek solace that she found in the arts — “I know the transformative power of art.” Over the years, she told of seeing the growth of the Dallas art especially the Dallas Opera’s outreach programs including the simulcast at AT&T Stadium, where Bugs Bunny served as a warm-up. Finishing up, she said, “I’m excited about the collaborative spirit.”
Lee then introduced last year’s Silver Cup Award female recipient Peggy Sewell, who is well known for her fundraising efforts. Doing so, Lee recalled coming across an observation that Peggy might want to consider — “If you are working for an arts organization, as she is, and you need to bend the curve because the competition is getting on your nerves, you can maybe disparage one of the other groups. For example, you might say the reason ballet dancers dance on en pointe on their toes is to avoid waking the audience. (Laughter) Peggy, you might want to consider it, because she’s got to raise a lot of money for that Islamic art [at the Dallas Museum of Art].” Some in the audience were scratching their heads over Lee’s comment, but insiders got it and some of them looked a little uncomfortable.
But without missing a beat, Peggy seamlessly followed introducing Lucilo, who also emphasized the “vital transformative power of art.” He recalled his parents growing up and fleeing Cuba and his growing up in Venezuela. The big artistic impact in his life was his trip to Europe as a youth and seeing the Prado in Madrid. Lucilo, who “lives, works and plays in the Arts District,” promoted the New Cities summit coming to Dallas, as well as his involvement in the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Dallas Architectural Forum and the Human Rights Campaign. As he was talking, the ballroom’s lights once again started acting up. This time they just shut down, leaving the room in darkness. From the podium, Lucilo said, “Whoa!” because he couldn’t see his notes. Guess someone heard him, because the lights immediately came back on and he was able to thank Deedie Rose, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Mary McDermott Cook, Marguerite Hoffman and others.
Lee returned to the podium tying her earlier remark about tiptoe dancing with the complimentary tickets at the tables: “Be sure to look at the tickets. I feel honor bound to add that the Texas Ballet Theater is doing very well. They do dance en pointe,” she said. “They got $65K from TACA . They’re doing well. Titas is going to bring a great program for the Fete du Ballet May 2nd. Would you look at the tickets on your table? There is a ticket for two. You can go to the Black Dance Ballet where they do not dance en pointe, I hope. Or maybe they do, but they’re very great. You can go to ‘Mariachi Girl‘ at the Children’s Theater. Or, you can go to piano concerto at the Dallas Symphony.”
She then dismissed the group, “So happy spring to all of you. Surely, it’s arriving soon. Thank you for being here. Same time next year.”
So tradition continues.