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Business Support of the Arts Awards Announced for 2013

(l-r: Elizabeth Beam; Nancy Brenneman, The Raleigh Fine Arts Society;Jimmy Yates, Wyrick Robbins Yates and Ponton, LLP; and Sundeep Joshi, National Pawn General Manager)

(l-r: Elizabeth Beam; Nancy Brenneman, The Raleigh Fine Arts Society;
Jimmy Yates, Wyrick Robbins Yates and Ponton, LLP; and Sundeep Joshi, National Pawn General Manager)

Raleigh, N.C. — United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County 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 are given in four categories: large business, small business, individual and arts education. The Business Support of the Arts Awards were presented on January 16, at the 3rd Annual State of the Arts and Culture in Wake County event at the North Carolina Art Museum.


Large Business: Wyrick Robbins Yates and Ponton, LLP
Small Business: National Pawn
Arts Education: The Raleigh Fine Arts Society
Individual: Elizabeth Beam

The Large Business category winner, Wyrick Robbins Yates and Ponton, LLP, and its 100+ employees enrich Raleigh and Wake County through their participation in arts organizations. As good corporate citizens of this community, they have a long tradition of community service and encourage all employees—not just the attorneys—to get involved and contribute in whatever ways are most appropriate. Employees have served in leadership roles on many arts-related boards in Wake County, including the United Arts Council, Carolina Ballet, Burning Coal Theatre, Arts Together and more. Through the economic downturn of the past several years, Wyrick Robbbins has continued to support arts education during a critical time in arts funding. They have contributed to the Visual Art Exchange, NC Theatre, Artspace, Carolina Ballet, Burning Coal, United Arts Council, among others. They have continued to host a workplace campaign for the United Arts Council and have been founding and annual sponsors of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” for nine years. This fundraiser helps fund United Arts’ Artists in the Schools Program. Wyrick Robbins’ example has helped these organizations attract other funding and continue their mission of enhancing this community through the arts. In addition to monetary contributions, their pro bono work for these organizations has helped defray any legal costs that may have arisen. (Nominated by Georgia Donaldson, United Arts Council Board member)

Recipient of the award in the Small Business category is National Pawn, owned by Bob Moulton. For the second year in a row, National Pawn has donated more than 100 instruments to the middle school band and orchestra programs in the Wake County School System. National Pawn, under Mr. Moulton’s guidance, has extended support to school systems in Durham, Orange and New Hanover counties, as well. Additionally, Mr. Moulton, a self-described “proud former band geek,” provided a cash contribution to Wake County to repair the donated instruments, as well as donating 100 brand new recorders that have been distributed to a high-poverty school in Wake County.

Mr. Moulton wants to help as many students as possible realize their dreams of becoming musicians. His efforts are focused on raising awareness of the tremendous need for used instruments and the potential of recycling. He encourages community members to search their closets for instruments no longer used and to bring them to his shops to donate or sell, so that they may be redistributed to students. In a growing school system with limited resources, the arts program relies on support from community partners. These donations help to ensure that students who might not be able to provide their own instrument will still have access to music class. Participation in the arts develops the 21st-century skills of communication, creativity and collaboration, making Mr. Moulton’s generosity an investment in our future. (Nominated by Elizabeth Grimes Droessler, Senior Administrator, Arts Education, Wake County Public School System and United Arts Council Board member)

Throughout its history, Arts Education winner, The Raleigh Fine Arts Society, has promoted and encouraged artistic pursuits in our community. Through lectures, exhibitions, concert and recitals, The Raleigh Fine Arts Society has endeavored to foster public interest in art, music and literature. Its major focus has been on three signature projects:

The North Carolina Artists Exhibition Adopted as the first Society project in 1965, the Artists Exhibition has now grown into an annual juried exhibition for artists throughout the state, with a nationally recognized art curator or educator invited to serve as juror each year. Officially named the North Carolina Artists Exhibition in 2008, during its 30th anniversary year, the exhibition is held in the Betty Ray McCain Gallery at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. This year, the Society added an important educational component to this project in the form of a DVD presentation for area high schools distributed free of charge. The DVD is intended to encourage and inspire the next generation of NC artists, offering a behind-the-scenes look at a juried art exhibition with insight provided by participating artists and the juror.

The Literary Contest The Literary contest was launched in November 1978 as a short story contest among high school students, juried by professionals and featuring cash awards for prize winners. This short-story competition for Wake County high school students encourages creative writing and recognizes emerging talent. An important part of the contest is the Young Writer’s Workshop where the final judges share their evaluations and provide feedback to the authors of the winning manuscripts. Following the workshop, the winners are honored at an Awards Banquet. In 2012, 913 short stories were submitted from 19 Wake County public and private high schools. Eighteen winners from seven schools were selected.

The Choral Competition In 1999, the Choral Competition was created to showcase choral music at the elementary school level. Elementary school choral groups and their teachers are offered a unique opportunity to perform and share their skills with other schools and the public at Meymandi Hall in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The Celebration promotes the highest standards for excellence in children’s choral singing. It is the only chance available in Wake County for many of these children to present a musical program in a professional setting and to observe other choral groups. Choral directors receive feedback from qualified adjudicators, enabling them to improve future performances. In spring 2012, students from 16 schools performed on two consecutive evenings; approximately 1000 elementary students sang for an audience of 3000. (Nominated by Peggy Wilks)

The honoree in the Individual Category is Elizabeth Beam. Ms. Beam serves as the group leader for the Cardinal Singers, a ladies vocal chorale that performs throughout the community. The Cardinal Singers provide numerous free concerts for senior adult clubs sponsored by the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department, as well as special concerts open to the public throughout the year. Ms. Beam has served faithfully as the group leader for more than 20 years. She coordinates their concert and performance schedule, develops the content of each performance, and reaches out to the senior community to make the group available for concerts. Her energy and enthusiasm permeates through the group and her passion and love of music is evident.

In typical fashion, Ms. Beam places the emphasis on The Cardinal Singers, describing them as unsung (pun intended) heroes with the seniors in the community. They have been around over 30 years and except for receiving the Fred Fletcher Award of Excellence for Volunteering, they have quietly done what they do so well – providing high quality programming free of charge, traveling to 25 or so groups each season. Ms. Beam notes that besides the senior clubs, her group has sung for naturalization ceremonies including the one at the International Festival this past fall. Ms. Beam describes the chorale as “a life style for the singers–probably a quarter of the group is made up of retired/working music teacher/choir directors. (Elizabeth Beam was nominated by Steve White, Recreation Program Director- Senior Adult Program, Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department.)

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.