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For Immediate Release: May 18th, 2015  



Seattle, WA – Nearly 1000 supporters from all aspects of the Puget Sound region’s arts and cultural sector filled the Grand Ballroom of the Westin Seattle on May 18th, 2015 for ArtsFund’s 27th Annual Celebration of the Arts Luncheon.    Keynote address by Vijay Gupta (Founder of Street Symphony, TED Senior Fellow, and Mental Health Advocate) was entitled “The Medicine of Music“.  The luncheon was sponsored by Presenting Sponsor The Boeing Company, as well as by Supporting Sponsors Delta Air Lines, Official Airline of the Celebration of the Arts Luncheon, Delta Dental of Washington, and Safeco Insurance. 

CEO Remarks:

ArtsFund President and CEO Mari Horita opened her comments by stating, “We are here today because the arts matter.  They matter intrinsically – they entertain us, inspire us, provoke us.  The arts also fuel our economy and improve educational outcomes. The arts heal on many different levels.”

Horita continued, “The arts not only elevate our quality of life but help define it.  The arts fuel that creativity and innovation that gives this region a distinctive competitive edge.   Our dynamic arts and cultural scene inspires dialogue and debate and attracts curious minds, creative talent, out of the box thinkers and entrepreneurs.  And it not only attracts those people to this region, but it keeps them here.”

In framing the luncheon’s focus on the connections between arts, health and healing, Horita concluded, “We chose this topic not because it is the only way, or even the primary way, that the arts add value, but because it is one important example, of many important examples, of the ways the arts help people. The ways the arts improve lives. The ways the arts matter.” 

Keynote Address:

Keynote Speaker Vijay Gupta‘s address, “The Medicine of Music”,   focused on the redemptive and regenerative powers of music.  Blending his expertise in neurobiology and music, Gupta’s remarks explored music’s ability to change our brains, heal ailments, and ultimately, transform lives.

Gupta shared the story of how he became the friend and violin instructor of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers—the homeless, mentally ill musician who was the subject of LA Times Columnist Steve Lopez’s book The Soloist, and the movie by the same title—and  stated, “Music has a profound effect on the human brain, but even deeper effects on the spirit and psyche. Music connects us where words fail. Music speaks where judgement and stigma often take the place of compassionate dialogue and empathic understanding. Music ties us back to our most fundamental compassionate, healing center.”

Trustee Remarks:

Sandy McDade, ArtsFund Board Chair, cited the wide-ranging impact the arts organizations ArtsFund supports are having throughout the region, and commented on his recent experiences visiting thirty of these organizations. McDade summarized,  “I have gained a much deeper understanding of the audience for art in our region. It is much larger, more dedicated and more diverse than I ever imagined.  But even with these strong audiences, we know that ticket sales only cover about half an organization’s operating costs, at best. They need the operating support ArtsFund provides.”

Master of Ceremonies Gordon Prouty, Publisher of the Puget Sound Business and ArtsFund Trustee, commented,  “I always love the ArtsFund Luncheon, not only because it reminds us just how important this organization and the work they do is to our community, but  how important the arts are to our future.  I’m always hearing about the challenge of workforce development as a key issue in our future development, and the arts play a key role in that.  Our arts community makes this a more attractive region to potential hires from all over the world and the arts are critical in providing the next generation with the skills that they need.”

Award Presentations:

ArtsFund’s award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award was presented to renowned actor, director and Pacific Northwest resident Tom Skerritt.  The award was presented by Steve Fleischmann, Owner, Fleischmann Capital, and President, POP! Gourmet Foods, and Michael Malone, Hunters Capital.

ArtsFund’s award for Lifetime Dedication to the Arts to Ann Ramsay Jenkins was presented by Bernie Griffin, Managing Director, 5th Avenue Theatre

Linking to the Luncheon theme of arts, health and healing, the honorees were presented with original pieces of glass blown by the Museum of Glass’ Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program participants.  The Museum of Glass’ Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire program is a partnership with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, serving soldiers with complex physical and mental injuries.

The event included musical performances by Seattle JazzED‘s All Star Combo: The Isaac Poole Quartet.  Gordon Prouty, Publisher of the Puget Sound Business and ArtsFund Trustee, served as Master of Ceremonies.

About Vijay Gupta:

Vijay Gupta is a violinist whose interest in neurobiology and mental health issues has made him a world renowned advocate for the redemptive and regenerative power of music.  A TED Senior Fellow, Gupta directs the organization Street Symphony, a non-profit organization creating free on-site musical experiences for people experiencing incarceration and homelessness.

Gupta holds a Master’s in music from Yale and made his solo debut, at age 11, with the Israel Philharmonic. He now performs with the LA Philharmonic.  As an undergrad, where he studied Pre-med, Gupta was part of several research projects in neuro-and neurodegenerative biology. He held Research Assistant positions at CUNY Hunter College in New York City, where he worked on spinal cord neuronal regeneration, and at the Harvard Institutes of Medicine Center for Neurologic Diseases, where he studied the biochemical pathology of Parkinson’s disease.

About Ann Ramsay-Jenkins:

Ann Ramsay-Jenkins has long been an active participant in both Seattle’s business and non-profit sectors.  As a Board member of the 5th Avenue Theatre, former Board member of Seattle Repertory Theatre, founding chair of the Seattle Repertory Theatre Foundation, and a member of the Theatre Communications Group National Council for the American Theatre (NCAT), her support is felt locally and nationally. Jenkins also produced a Broadway play, First Date, which ran from 2013-2014. She is a founding member of ArtsFund’s Advisory Council.

Jenkins is co-founder and a Board member of the College Success Foundation, a non-profit she helped develop in 2000 to provide college scholarships and mentoring to low-income, high-potential students. Her many political involvements include serving on President Carter’s Advisory Committee for Women, the White House Fellows Foundation,  a steering committee for the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Board of the Institute for Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Locally she has served as chair of the United Way of King County’s Board, and has chaired the UW Medicine Board.

About Tom Skerritt:

Tom Skerritt is an award-winning actor who has appeared in more than forty films and more than two hundred television episodes since 1962.  In addition to his roles in blockbuster feature films such as MASH, Alien, Top Gun, and A River Runs Through It, he has worked extensively in television, winning an Emmy Award for CBS’s Picket Fences in the role of Sheriff Jimmy Brock.  More recently, he guest-starred in episodes of LeverageWhite Collar, The Good Wife, and Madam Secretary.  In 2012 and again in 2015, he played the title role in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s productions of Don Quixote. In 2013 he appeared in the Broadway adaptation of John Grisham’s novel, A Time To Kill.

Skerritt is an instructor at and a co-founder of TheFilmSchool, a non-profit film program in Seattle that focuses on intensive training in screenwriting and directing.  He also co-founded the Red Badge Project, which works with veterans struggling to heal the wounds of PTSD, anxiety and depression by using the creative process of storytelling.  A native of Detroit and UCLA alumni, he currently makes his home in Seattle with his wife, Julie.

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ArtsFund’s Mission:  ArtsFund strengthens the community by supporting the arts through leadership, advocacy and grant making.

ArtsFund’s Vision:  A community with a dynamic and world-class arts and cultural sector where the arts are accessible to all and valued as a central and critical component to a healthy society.