TheatreSquared lauded arts difference makers at the 2021 Gala for Education and Access on June 3 at the newly expanded Fayetteville Public Library.
The professional theater organization presented Lynn and Joel Carver the 2021 Arts Advocate Award. Upon conferring the award, Judy Schwab, T2 board member, said: "Lynn and Joel have been enthusiastic supporters of the Northwest Arkansas community and lend their support to arts organizations and other nonprofits in the area working to improve the lives of those who live and work here."
Sarah Haman, Lakeside High School in Hot Springs theater teacher, was recognized as Arts Educator of the Year. Morgan Hicks, director of education and program development, told those gathered: "Sarah entered her position as a theater teacher in Arkansas with a non-traditional licensure ... Before she even entered the classroom, she enrolled in TheatreSquared's Professional Development Institute, which created a cohort of fellow teachers for her to learn from and to collaborate with. Her initiative was impressive, and through the years we have seen her methods of teaching deepen and grow."
Chris Seawood, T2 corporate and institutional giving manager and former COO for the Historic St. James Missionary Baptist Church, introduced Pastor Curtiss P. Smith and the Rev. Jacinda Smith as recipients of the Special Award for Community Impact.
"For the last 14 years, St. James has been blessed beyond comprehension under their leadership: the footprint of spiritual, social and civic activism has grown to include a professional mental health counseling team, an 8,500-square-foot outreach center that serves over 6oo families per week; a partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Economic Opportunity Agency Headstart program; and varied opportunities for voting registration drives, vaccine clinics [and] Back to School programs."
Benefit guests enjoyed a command performance by Tony Award Nominee Carmen Cusack ("Bright Star," "Phantom of the Opera," "Les Misérables," "Wicked").
Organizers say proceeds from the evening will help provide live theater experiences to:
• 20,000 kids in 80 communities across Arkansas -- and into Missouri and Oklahoma -- who will enjoy a live theater performance, many for the first time;
• Thousands of underserved community members will experience live theater using free tickets given to St. James Food Pantry, 7Hills, Dress for Success, Single Parent Scholarship Fund, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, Ozark Literacy Council, NWA Children's Center -- and more than 40 other nonprofit partners;
• SNAP benefit recipients can buy $1 tickets to any show; in-school workshops will spark new excitement for youth; teachers will dive in to professional development.
TheatreSquared kicks off the 2021-22 season June 23 with the premiere of "Matilda: The Musical." Adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, from the book by Roald Dahl, the production will run through July 18.
Also slated for the season are "American Mariachi," Aug. 4-29; "Designing Women," Sept. 22-Oct. 24; "Violet," Nov. 17-Dec. 12; "Tiny Beautiful Things," Oct. 20-Nov. 5; "A Christmas Carol," Dec. 3-26; "The Mountaintop," Jan. 19-Feb. 23; "Tiger Style!" Feb. 23-April 10; "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity," April 13-May 8; and "Miss You Like Hell," June 1-July 17. The Arkansas New Play Festival World Premiere will be June 29-July 24.
Honorary co-chairmen for the benefit were Tori and Andrew Bogner, Nate Green and Luis Gonzalez, Monique and James Jones, Sara Parnell, Margaret and Dick Rutherford, Beth and Marshall Saviers, Esther Silver-Parker and Ronald Parker and Andrea and Jeremy Wilson.
For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.
Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]
At a Glance
2021 Gala for Education and Access
What: Proceeds from the evening support “far-reaching arts-in-education and access programs” serving 30,000 Arkansans.
When: June 3
Where: Fayetteville Public Library
Next: “Matilda,” June 23-July 18
Information: (479) 777-7477 or theatre2.org