Overture Center’s Mission – Entertain, Educate, Engage

–submitted by Jerry Thain; photo by Donna Beestman

DeDee Ted 12 2 2015Ted DeDee, fellow Rotarian and President and CEO of Overture Center for the Arts, (OC) gave an inspiring and information packed summary of the OC’s impact on the community in his talk to the Club at Alliant Energy Center on December 2.  He began by noting the work of Club members on the OC’s Board & of other Rotarians to various OC activities.  After stating that OC, financially, was “doing great” since its transition from a City operation to one run by a non-profit foundation, he indicated that the many activities of OC could be placed in three basic categories-Educating, Engaging and Entertaining – and then gave some examples in each.

Educating included bringing almost 27,000 school age children to OC programs last year on very inexpensive or subsidized tickets.  The “Any Given Child” program operated in conjunction with the D.C. Kennedy Center provides kids in grades K to 8, throughout the city & MMSD  access to OC activities. The Broadway Diversity program provides internships for students of color in the arts, allowing them to shadow a show director for one week.  The Tommies & Tommy ensemble provide students from nearly 80 schools to display their talents at OC after auditions before professional reviewers to select the best performers.  WPT tapes and broadcasts an edited version of the Tommy Awards statewide.  The Tommy Ensemble is 16 to 28 students chosen from the program for pre-professional training.

Ted noted two significant engagement programs.  One is the Rising Stars program which over the last two years saw 475 local acts presented and 25 finalists each year provided contract opportunities with OC.  The Club Ten Program provides $10 tickets to OC performances, via help of non-profit agencies.  2,300 tickets have been provided since Dec. 2014.  A fine example of this program’s impact came from one recipient who wrote that it provided her “enjoyment from being a part of society that I’m usually excluded from.”

As to entertainment, he noted that four OC art centers are always free and open to the public as an example of free activities at OC. Broadway touring productions have made Madison the number one market for Broadway shows in the state.  (“Newsies” began its national tour by opening in Madison in 2015.)  He cited a study indicating that, since January 2012, OC (not including its 10 resident arts companies) generated $251,000,000 in economic benefits to the community.  He cited Alex Haunty, attending the meeting, for his recognition, at age 23, as the outstanding young philanthropist of the area.  Alex sells arts and cards he designs and uses the receipts to buy OC tickets for disadvantaged people.

Ted concluded his presentation with a heart-felt recognition of Jerry Frautschi (in attendance) and Pleasant Rowland Frautschi for their donations that enabled the existence of Overture Center and their expectation that it would provide education, entertainment and engagement, an expectation that OC is meeting. The OC Foundation report and its 2015-16 Programs for the Community, distributed at the meeting, provide fuller particulars on OC’s activities in these areas.

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