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One of the highlights of Geva Theatre Center’s calendar is the annual Directors’ Forum Dinner, a gala event honoring the theatre’s major donors. Part of the program for this event, held at the end of each season, is the presentation of the Legacy Award to honor an individual or individuals who have demonstrated exemplary service to the theatre and have made an impact on the life and longevity of the nearly forty-year old cultural establishment.
At this year’s function on June 13th, Artistic Director Mark Cuddy and Executive Director Tom Parrish, with Trustee and former Legacy Award Winner Linda Cornell-Weinstein, presented the Legacy Award to a gentleman whose dedication to the theatre exemplifies this honor. Patrick Fulford has served the theatre since 1994 when he was elected to the board of Trustees. He served as Treasurer of the board from 1995 until his term as Chairman began in 2000. He was elected to the Honorary Board in 2006.
“Since my arrival in 1995, Patrick Fulford has shown enormous trustee leadership through his extraordinary ability to listen carefully, comprehend completely, and communicate clearly,” commented Mark Cuddy. “He also is a tireless and passionate cheerleader for Geva. Patrick has been an inspiration to me and all those fortunate enough to have his light shine on them.”
Former Legacy Award winners include Helen Berkeley, Linda Cornell Weinstein, Ron and Donna Fielding, Tom and Nan Hildebrandt, Nannette Nocon, Herbert Rees, Robert Saltzman, and Jean Gordon Ryon, among others.
Patrick Fulford was presented with this coveted award, designed by local artist Nancy Gong. The stunning blue glass piece is designed as a “Blessing Scroll,” the intention of which is to wish and remind the recipient of good things in life – good fortune, good health, longevity, long-life, happiness and auspiciousness.
Essie Calhoun, Retired Chief Diversity Officer, Director of Community Affairs, Vice President of Eastman Kodak Company and Chair of the 2011 United Way of Greater Rochester Campaign, was honored at Geva Theatre Center on Saturday, April 2nd.
The 8:30pm performance of August Wilson’s Radio Golf was dedicated to her, in recognition of her many contributions to diversity in the community and in the arts.
In addition, Geva Theatre Center has created the Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award. Ms. Calhoun is the first recipient of this award, which will be given annually to a person or organization that promotes and encourages diversity in the arts.
Geva’s Artistic Director Mark Cuddy remarked, “It gives me a special joy to honor Essie Calhoun in this manner on behalf of all Rochester organizations that have benefited from her dogged support and clear philanthropic vision. Personally, Essie has been such a stalwart champion of Geva’s diverse programming that I always feel her presence when season planning. I knew that she and Kodak would be there to stand with us.”
The award was designed by local artist Nancy Gong, one of America’s foremost glass artists. Ms. Gong combines the traditional techniques of stained glass craftsmen and stone carvers with her own style of creating texture and painting to craft pieces which are coveted by collectors from all over the world. The Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award is a stunning, circular piece of glass, with hues of sunset pink graduated to champagne and carved on one end with a diversity quilt pattern.
The Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award recognizes that art allows for the expression of truths and beliefs and helps us gain an understanding of one another and our world. It further acknowledges that a mixture of cultures stimulates creativity, the sharing of ideas, and the building of a common collective future, which has always been close to Ms. Calhoun’s heart.
“Going forward, whomever receives the annual “Essie” Award will be standing on some pretty broad shoulders,” commented Mark Cuddy. “It’s a fitting tribute to the legacy one person can build in our community.”
Geva Theatre Center’s Artistic Director Mark Cuddy is proud to announce the much anticipated 2011/2012 season of seven productions that encompass the theatrical history and tradition for which Geva is renowned. One of the themes of the 2011-2012 Mainstage Season is Love and Marriage. Three of the subscription plays focus on varying stages of marriage, from wedding day to golden anniversary. The forthcoming season will feature a beloved play about a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage; a fresh adaptation of one of the world’s first passionate thrillers; the return, by popular demand, of last year’s new adaptation of a Dickens’ classic; an hysterically romantic romp from a contemporary farceur; a classic American drama; a recent play by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, and Stephen Sondheim at his best.
“The momentum created with this past season’s success has given us great confidence in assembling the 2011-12 Geva repertory,” said Mark Cuddy. “The new season includes passionate projects that have been on our ‘wish list’ for awhile, and the timing is right for Geva artists to put their great talents towards creating them for Rochester. Once again, the wide range of plays and musicals will offer our audience a singular experience in the theatre.”
The announcement of the new season coincides with the arrival of Executive Director Tom Parrish. Mr. Parrish will partner with Mr. Cuddy as co-CEO of the nearly 40-year old organization. Mr. Parrish comes to Geva from Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) in Lowell, Massachusetts where he has served as Executive Director since 2006. Prior to joining MRT, Mr. Parrish served as Associate Managing Director and General Manager of San Diego Repertory Theatre, where he received the NAACP Theatre Award for Best Producer, managed a variety of education and outreach initiatives and produced the theatre’s annual Kuumba Fest Celebration, the largest African American cultural festival of its kind on the West Coast.
“Tom’s arrival is not just the placement of a new cultural executive in Rochester; it’s the promise of a new era of business at Geva,” commented Mark Cuddy. “The complexities of not-for-profit business in this economic climate require a smart and seasoned leader, and we have that in my new partner. I am thrilled to be working alongside Tom.”
“It is such a great time to be joining Geva,” adds Tom Parrish. “Coming off the strength of this season, the 2011-12 Season is going to be fantastic. I am very much looking forward to working with Mark to not only finish this season strong, but continue building on our incredible momentum in the seasons to come.”
For over 38 years, Geva Theatre Center has been Rochester’s home for great theatre offering value for money and the opportunity to enjoy superb, landmark productions in their own community. Geva Theatre Center continues to be one of the premiere cultural organizations in Rochester, the most attended regional theatre in New York State, and is seen as a leading light among professional theatres in this country.
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