2018 – 2019 Season in Review by Walt Smith, outgoing FCFA President

Walt Smith, outgoing President of the Friends of the Center for the Arts, reflects on the 2018-2019 season and its many successes.

The 2018-2019 season was another outstanding season for the Great Performances at Mason and for the Friends of the Center for the Arts. Great Performances at Mason brings the best in performing arts from around the globe to the Northern Virginia community at a reasonable price. A glance at the catalog of the season performances confirms that this objective is being met.

The major objective of the Friends of the Center for the Arts is to provide financial support to the Center because the revenue from ticket sales covers less than half of the cost of the Center’s operation. Our revenue comes from the annual dues of our members. The Friends membership committee, under the direction of Vice President Joyce Grimes, has been successful in increasing the membership at the higher levels. The “Plus Fifty” campaign is gaining traction as more members add $50 to the cost of their membership level, and the Grand Tier Society ($1,000 or higher) is thriving in just its fifth year. In each of the past several years, the Friends have contributed $100,000 or more to the Center for the Arts. Well done!

“Friends Front and Center” is the Friends’ newsletter. Vice President Bob Warakomsky has directed the transition to a new and improved newsletter. It is now almost exclusively electronic and appears in your e-mail inbox every month. Readers find articles about coming events, Friends-only happenings, and behind-the-scenes looks at the operation of the Center and the people that make it happen.

To many, Artists in Conversation events are the top benefits of being a Friend. This year there were six great opportunities for Friends to hear from and meet with artists in an informal setting, from the cast of The Phantom Tollbooth to famed choreographer Mark Morris, . Much planning goes into these special events, and co- Vice Presidents Ida Portland and Paulette Miller appreciate the support of committee members and volunteers. Grand Tier Society members also enjoyed two exciting events featuring food, drink and performances by well-known artists from the Washington Metro area.

Hearing a first-time patron who enthusiastically exclaims, “I’ve lived here for ten years and never knew this place existed” following a performance is not an unusual event. That too frequent occurrence has given rise to a new Friend’s initiative “Be an Ambassador.” The mission is quite simple: seize every opportunity to extol the many benefits that the Great Performances at Mason afford Northern Virginia residents. They include world class artists, attractive prices, and free parking, to name just a few. Always have a few extra Great Performances at Mason catalogs in your home, office or car. Give a copy to an acquaintance or a friend. If there are young children in your neighborhood, deliver a copy to their family and highlight the Family Series. All Friends should “Be an Ambassador.”

The Friends of the Center for the Arts is on the move, and we look forward to an exciting and productive 2019-2020 year.