Was it just a year ago that TACA Carlson President/Executive Director Becky Young was walking her pooch and questioning the future of the day’s Silver Cup luncheon? Sure, it was a knock-out, slippery, icy day with traffic reports boding it wasn’t the best for folks to be out. But Becky didn’t want to let Silver Cup honorees Catherine Rose and Don Glendenning miss their tributes. And then there were all those preparations — the food, the flowers, the entertainers and those hundreds and hundreds of guests!
After checking with the local TV weathercasters, Becky was thinking that postponement might be best. But the final push to pull the plug was honoree/attorney Don chiming in that he didn’t want to think of anyone being harmed trying to get to the event.
With that the event was put on ice, literally. But lemonade resulted from the lemon of a weather situation. Flowers were sent to area hospitals. Luncheon fare was sent to homeless shelters that were in greater need due to the weather’s damnation. A delayed mini-presentation of the awards was hosted on a beautiful day weeks later by Mary McDermott Cook.
But on Friday, February 19, the temps were downright embarrassing as sunscreen-friendly 80s were replacing the past year’s chills for the 2016 TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.
While the hundreds gathered outside the Hilton Anatole’s Grand Ballroom to check in, the VIPs including past Silver Cup recipients headed to the nearby Media Grill and Bar Restaurant. Some seemed a little bewildered at the location. A table with three empty chairs and a TACA poster on an easel indicated that the VIP reception was indeed within. Passing by hotel guests at the bar watching a basketball game on the big screen, the TACA types moseyed on back to a semi-private dining room. Pretty soon the area became so packed with people like Honorary Chair Ann Hobson, Kevin Hurst, Jennifer Eagle, Tom Mayer, Ted Enloe and Carol Glendenning, they spilled out into the hallway.
Unlike years past when the award recipients opened the boxes, revealing the Silver Cups to the assembled guests, the 38th Cup awardees Rebecca Fletcher and James “Jim” Wiley Jr. gleefully opened the boxes in the back of the room unbeknownst to others. Didn’t matter because the cups shone like the Rebecca’s and Jim’s smiles.
Just before the VIP party broke up, the annual group photo of Silver Cup recipients, past and present, was staged in a corner of the room. Unfortunately, some, like past Silver Cup recipients Mary McDermott Cook, Kern Wildenthal, Holly Mayer and Ruben Esquivel, had already moved on to the Grand Ballroom. Just as well because they couldn’t have squeezed any more folks into that corner.
But once inside the Grand Ballroom, there was plenty of room for folks to settle down for lunch. Mistress of ceremonies Lee Cullum introduced the head table including Co-Chairs Pilar Henry and Tara Lewis, J.P. Morgan’s Peter Chilian, 2015 Silver Cup Awardees Don Glendenning and Catherine Rose, TACA Board Chair Donna Wilhelm, Paradox Compensation Advisors’ Marsha Cameron, Neiman Marcus’ Ginger Reeder and the 2016 Silver Cup Awardees Rebecca and Jim. She then invited the Rev. Douglas Travis of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church to come to the podium to give the invocation. Just before having him take over, she said, “He may not know that I’m in his parish.” Without missing a beat, Douglas said, “I know.” A chuckle was heard from the audience just before they bowed their heads.
At 12:10 luncheon (baby kale salad followed by an entrée of chicken, mushroom and leek fricassee and a chocolate pistachio torte for dessert) was served while The Dallas Opera principal harpist Grace Browning played on a mini-stage at one of the room and was followed by Dallas Chamber Symphony principal clarinet Jonathan Jones on a similar stage across the way. At one point Jonathan played Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” and it was noted that eating utensils seemed to move faster.
Following Lee’s state-of-the-arts review, Tara’s thanking the sponsors and remarks by Pete, Marsha and Donna, Ginger introduced the 2016 SMU Meadows School of the Arts Performers pianist Tara Emerson and tenor Charles Karanja, who performed on a stage in front of the head table.
Following the performance, Catherine Rose introduced fourth-generation Texan Jim, remarking that “one of his many sterling qualities is his willingness to step in and volunteer for the hardest work and then actually do the work.”
He kicked off his brief acceptance speech with “Wow! Shazam!” His acceptance speech was mingled with humor and sincerity, “having had the good fortune of picking parents who lived in Dallas” and attributing his early love for the arts to his DISD teachers. While admitting that Dallas’ arts have flourished over the years, he asked, “Where do we go from here?” He suggested the “biggest challenge is figuring out a way to empower all the diverse and disparate parts to come together and experience the joy of true community.” With the costs of sports participation and attendance being prohibitive for families, he reasoned that “enjoying art in all its forms and experiencing the outdoors and nature are two viable ways for Dallas to come together as a community.”
At 1:22 p.m. the ever-eloquent Don’s introduction of Rebecca sounded more like a love note. In closing, he paraphrased Lerner and Lowe’s “We Call the Wind Maria(h),” saying
“’Way out here we have a name for rain and wind and fire. The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and we call the wind Maria(h).’ In that same spirit, I give you our arts force of nature — Rebecca.”
Like Jim, Rebecca started off her acceptance speech with, “Wow!” She then recalled attending her first Silver Cup Award luncheon in 1993, when her mother Bess Enloe received the award. It “sparked” the idea of leaving the legal profession and working for in the nonprofit sector.
She accepted the award graciously, telling the audience that it was especially meaningful since she and James had worked together in the past. Rebecca then took the opportunity of explaining why her focus had been primarily on the arts, “because of what they can uniquely give back to our community. Imagine a society without the influence of arts and you’ll have to strip out the most pleasurable in life. Take away the collective memory of our museums. Remove the bands from our schools, the choirs from our communities; lose empathetic plays and dance from our theaters and you’re left with a society bereft of a national conversation about its identity or anything else.”
Thanking her associates and friends, she teared up in recognizing her family. But Rebecca was not going to end her talk with tears. Instead she announced that she was going to “set the record straight” about her husband Barron Fletcher. “Many of you have often complimented me on the relationship that I set up between Titas and the Performing Arts Center during my tenure as the board chair. Well, I have to come clean. It was not my idea. [laughter from the audience] It was Barron Fletcher’s. Barron was the one who stayed up with me pouring over Titas’ books and designing a new business model. Furthermore, he personally wrote a check to cover the organization, so that I could go out and negotiate the deal. So, just so we all know, Barron Fletcher saved Titas.”