By Eleanor H. Oakley
President and CEO
Clearly, it is award season. People’s Choice, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Oscars….just to name a few this month and next.
At United Arts, we give out awards in January as well. Ours go to individuals and companies who deserve recognition for their long service—both financial and personal–to our arts community in Wake County. In partnership with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, we present our Business Support of the Arts awards in four categories. On January 13, at our State of Arts and Culture in Wake County meeting at the NC Museum of Art, we will present the awardees: Golden Corral (Large Business); Jerry’s Artarama (Small Business); Sanderson High School’s Marshall Butler (Arts Education); and the John William Pope Foundation (Individual/Foundation).
There were eight nominations, all deserving. Our selections were made in consultation with Chamber staff, and all were significant for their length of service to the arts in our community. While those who attend performances, concerts and exhibits don’t often think of it, these events do not happen without corporate support, usually financial but often in conjunction with board service by corporate representatives. The breadth of arts offerings in Wake County happens only with such support, and both Golden Corral and Jerry’s Artarama are excellent examples of this often unseen support.
Golden Corral has supported Raleigh Little Theatre, its nominator, for years both monetarily and with corporate representatives seated on its board. Golden Corral currently sponsor’s RLT’s Youth Education Program, which touches the lives of thousands of young people each year. Golden Corral’s emphasis on children and families runs throughout all its philanthropic endeavors and Wake County is the better for it. ( On a personal note, 25 years ago, one of their company executives was among the first Board treasurers I ever worked with—and to this day, I remember all the relevant financial coaching with a nonprofit budget he gave me.)
Tom Dowd at Jerry’s Artarama is there, unseen, with all the small but vital pieces of support it takes to make art exhibits across Wake County happen. For years, we have worked with the 4th Congressional District’s High School Art Competition/Exhibit. Tom is always on hand—Jerry’s Artarama loans the easels and hands out awards and prizes from their company. He also frames the winning entry, which goes on display in Washington, DC. These are donations he does not have to make, but does.
Marshall Butler has led the choral wing of the arts at Sanderson High School in Raleigh for years. He has been Sanderson’s teacher of the year, received the NC Music Educators Association’s high school choral director of the year award and been recognized by the NC Symphony. There are numerous young people who have gone on to college to major in music because of this one man’s inspiration and strength in teaching. Our community is the richer for him.
Over the past 25 years, the John William Pope Foundation has supported the Carolina Ballet, NC Symphony, NC Opera, Performance Edge, the Raleigh Fine Arts Society and the NC Museum Art’s School Bus Scholarship Fund. The Foundation is also a major supporter of NC Theatre. Since 2002, the Foundation has provided over $350,000 to the theatre’s mission. The Foundation’s support allows the theatre to provide tickets to clients of the Salvation Army, Raleigh Rescue Mission and Step-Up Ministries, giving families with children the opportunity to attend musical theatre. This type of sustained support is part of the engine that creates the arts-rich environment we live in.
Next time you attend the theatre or a concert or take in an art exhibit, take a look at their supporters and appreciate, as we do, their commitment that gives so much to the rest of us.