At 11:30 on Friday, November 15, the reception for the Business Council for the Arts‘ 2019 Obelisk Award Luncheon in the Fairmont Dallas’ International Room Lobby was underway. The honorees had already been at a run-through of the day’s program and the VIP reception since 9:30. There were on stage in the International Ballroom getting their final instructions. Jane McGarry was in a one-shoulder pink cocktail dress for her debut as the Obelisk emcee. In years past Mary Anne Alhadeff has served as mistress of ceremony, but in addition to retiring from her role as president/CEO of KERA, she was receiving the Obelisk’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the back corner of the ballroom, Booker T. Washington’s jazz ensemble Vinyl (Very Interesting. Now You Listen.) camped out. All was set for the show to get underway.
At 11:46 a trumpet sounded as the doors to the ballroom opened. Minutes later Business Council for the Arts CEO Katherine Wagner welcomed the 400 guests including Kim Noltemy, Jacques Marquis, Jim Falk, Barbara Daseke and Lea Anne Laughlin and advised them that since she wanted guests to visit at tables, the program would get underway in 20 minutes.
True to her word, the program did start on time with Founder’s Chair Nancy Nasher greeting the audience and pointing out that this year’s class of honorees was from a broader range of areas than years past including Dallas, Fort Worth, Irving, McKinney, Plano and Richardson.
Business Council for the Arts Board Chair Rick Del Monte recognized both Nancy and Katherine and reported that BCA was part of an impact study in 2017 that revealed that “the arts had a $1.5B economic impact and employed 52,000 individuals in our region.”
He was followed by Luncheon Co-Chairs Jessica Beasley and Mimi Crume Sterling, who recognized the day’s sponsors, especially Capital One that came on board as the Synergist sponsor.
Following a performance by Vinyl, Jane got the presentation of the awards underway by inviting the day’s recipients (The Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation, American Airlines, Emerson Process Management, Oversee My IT LLC, Ann and Charles Eisemann, ArtCentre of Plano, Tammy Meinershagen, James Mason, PNC Bank, Dallas Glass Art and Mary Anne) to take their places on the stage.
While all the acceptances were gracious and articulate, an unplanned “oops!” provided some levity during the presentation. Jane introduced the recipients of the Arts Partnership for a small organization to OverSee Senior Executives “Jack Skinner and his daughter Chelsea.” Taking their places at the podium, Jack with a big smile on his face realized that a correction had to be made, reporting that Chelsea was his wife.
Immediately following the Skinners, Ann and Charles Eisemann were introduced to receive the Business Champions for the Arts award. With a twinkle in his eye, Charles nodded to Ann and said, “This is my daughter.”
Thanks to the two couples decades apart, they proved that philanthropists can be spontaneous and good-natured in addition to being gracious when accepting accolades.