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Business Support of the Arts Awards Announced for 2011

Photo Attached L-R: Harvey Schmitt, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce; Margaret Partridge and Kay Pellack, Philharmonic Assoc.; Eleanor Oakley, United Arts; David Diaz, Downtown Raleigh Alliance

Photo Attached L-R: Harvey Schmitt, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce; Margaret Partridge and Kay Pellack, Philharmonic Assoc.; Eleanor Oakley, United Arts; David Diaz, Downtown Raleigh Alliance

United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, Inc. and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce have named recipients of the annual Business Support of the Arts Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions to the arts in our area by businesses, organizations, and individuals. Awards weregiven in four categories: large business, small business, individual and arts education.

The Business Support of the Arts Awards were presented on January 6, at the “State of Arts and Culture in Wake County” event at the North Carolina Art Museum.


Recipient of the award in the Small Business category, The Downtown Raleigh Alliance, is cited for being a valuable partner of the arts in downtown Raleigh. The Alliance, in its role as promoter of downtown as a regional center of commerce, tourism and livability, markets Raleigh’s successful First Friday Gallery walk and has created and managed a membership structure for First Friday venues, an informational map, a website and countless promotions. In addition, they expanded the event to include retail and restaurants, adding another dimension to the evening event. Their nominator, the Visual Art Exchange, notes that since the Alliance took over management of First Friday, “its profile has risen tremendously and many new galleries and venues have joined in.” The Alliance is also responsible for adding an art component to many downtown events. The Downtown Farmers Market, Raleigh Wide Open and Winterfest now feature art and craft vendors, live music and live painting. Their nomination concludes by citing their work to create partnerships between the arts and downtown Raleigh businesses and the Alliance’s helpful work with the Visual Art Exchange on SPARKcon, the annual interdisciplinary, interactive art and design festival.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa is the recipient of the Large Business category award. Since opening in 2007, The Umstead has embraced the arts and arts community. In early 2009, the Umstead began to focus all its charitable dollars in the fields of arts and education. Organizations that have received support include the Carolina Ballet, Theater in the Park, Arts NC State and Playmakers, among many others. The Umstead has also been a sponsor for the Artspace Collectors Gala, for United Arts’ Guess Who? Party, and donated the talents of chefs and sommelier to both United Arts and Carolina Ballet fund raising events. In 2009 The Umstead hosted fund raisers for the North Carolina Pottery Center and for the former Opera Company of North Carolina. They are sponsors of the upcoming Art of the Auction 2011 for the NC Museum of Art and are hosting in March an event for the Gregg Museum. The Umstead has also established an “Art and Nature Lecture Series” with lectures by featured artists. And finally, The Umstead’s private art collection is well known and significant, featuring works by Seagrove potters Ben Owen III and Mark Hewitt, paintings by Herb Jackson and Raleigh’s Kay Hutchison, and sculpture by Wilmington native Stephen Smith.

The Arts Education awardee is The Philharmonic Association, which is cited for its “extraordinary commitment to improving education through the arts since 1988.” The Philharmonic Association has offered music education programming for 4th- to 12th-grade youth in response to community need. The Philharmonic now consists of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic; the Triangle Youth Symphony; Triangle Youth Orchestra, two Triangle String Orchestras; and the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble. The Triangle Youth String Orchestra was added just last year in response to the growing loss of string programs in middle and elementary schools. Unlike the other ensembles, this one is non-auditioned to be accessible to students not yet ready for competitive auditions. For the vast majority of all their participants, there is no other local opportunity to play regularly in a full orchestra because only a few of the larger string programs in the Wake County schools are able to combine with band members to play a full orchestra. In its 23 years, more than 1800 young people have participated in these ensembles, all benefitting from the experience of an exceptional music education program.

The honoree in the Individual Category is Dr. John Q. Walker, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Zenph Sound Innovations. Zenph utilizes cutting edge technology that translates music into data and uses the power of computer engineering to understand exactly what musicians do as they play: their gestures, timing, physicality, and individual imprint on a piece of music. The result is called a re-performance, and the first public demonstration of this was held here in Raleigh in 2005 at a concert presented by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild and sponsored by Zenph. The product that evening was a Bach work recorded by Glenn Gould in 1955. Since then, Dr. Walker has sponsored three other concerts for Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, on whose board he served from 2003-2009. His nomination by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild cites his company’s groundbreaking achievements for providing an invaluable tool for historians, musicologists, educators, performers and listeners to study performance practices of great artists from the past. As his nomination says, “he is truly a local guy making a difference.”

The United Arts Council’s mission is to build better communities through support and advocacy of the arts. The mission of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is to sustain and further develop a thriving economy and to enhance our community’s quality of life.

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