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Overture Center for the Arts

Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter


A fundamental tenant of equity, diversity and inclusion is the concept of voice. It is the idea of having space at the proverbial table for everyone, empowering a people both individually and collectively to express their beliefs without consequence or retribution. It is about allowing people to be actively involved equitably in systems that may have previously marginalized them, made them invisible or left them out altogether.

Though the dust has just about settled, I am still heartened by the fact that recently people in record numbers across the country used their voice, felt empowered and expressed their opinion by voting. We all witnessed equity, diversity and inclusion at its best when it showed up at the polls as the revived heartbeat of our democracy.

Even more important and at an even more basic level equity, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to understanding how and why we must treat one another with respect and common decency. As our world becomes smaller and we are more connected than ever, developing deeper understanding and core ideals around equity, diversity and inclusion will help us define new rules for charting a path to the protection of our humanity.

It is imperative that we find how to remove past ways of being that have cast a pall on our perspective and invaded our conscious in a way that has desensitized us and made it easy to be take part in acts that reduce rather than elevate us. Preservation of humanity means we must treat each other with courtesy and respect. We must find ways to break down those attacks against humanity, do away with divisiveness and take an intentional stand to reject inhumanity because it is harmful to us all and unacceptable.

I am always mindful that the arts are a powerful facilitator of positive dialogue and engagement. Let’s continue to use the arts as that safe space to build a culture of respect, cohesive communities that bind us, where everyone has a voice, is treated with common decency and is acknowledged for who they are regardless of socially prescribed identifiers or classifications. Let’s work consciously to preserve our humanity and enjoy that which we all bring to the table, whatever that may be.

Ed Holmes, PhD

Ed Holmes

Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Latino Art Fair

Latino Art Fair

The 2018 Latino Art Fair was a great success!! Over 700 attendees and more than 25 artists, throughout South-Central Wisconsin showcased their artwork, including paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry, music and more at the event organized and sponsored by the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County in partnership with Overture Center for the Arts. Many families came from throughout Wisconsin to enjoy a free concert by Golpe Tierra and to meet our Latino Art fair Art-entrepreneurs. The very talented Madison-based Guatemalan painter Richie Morales was the curator and creative director for this year’s art fair, having displayed his own art piece titled Immigration is nothing new. Other artists presenting works in Immigration X were Juan de Hoyos, Evelyn Galindo and Andy Villanueva. They wanted to explore some of the contemporary Latinx experience of displacement, diaspora, nomadism and dehumanization in the United States through the art fair. Through these connections the group of Latinx artists were able to collaborate on projects focused on social justice that impact the community. Thanks to our supporters, volunteer committee and our sponsor, Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County, for your support!

Richard Davis

Passing the Bass: A Global Tribute to Richard Davis

While we have had many amazing moments of arts and culture here at Overture for everyone to share this fall, there has been none more memorable for me than Passing the Bass: A Global Tribute to Richard Davis. The event celebrated the life and legacy of world renowned 2014 NEA Jazz Master Richard Davis. Richard who played with some of the all-time great jazz artists, was an educator at the UW Madison for 40 years, and Social Justice Champion of many important causes was “aglow” the entire night.

The event was impactful from start to finish, from the opening remarks by Eric Logan of the Ho-Chunk Nation reminding us that the event and space we were in is in-fact tribal land and that the tradition of music and celebration of culture is such an important part of the Ho-Chunk culture and belief system. He set the tone by telling us how fitting it was to host this tribute event at Overture Center in Historic Capital theater on Ho-Chunk land. From the street naming announcement to Richard himself conducting (from his seat under a dim spotlight) the world-renowned jazz artists friends and former students that came from as far away as Nagaski, Japan to honor and perform for their friend, teacher and mentor. Given all that happened that night the most heartening moment for me was when the standing room only crowd of nearly 1200 stood to applaud the artists for their phenomenal performance and then, as if prompted in advance, all turned to Richard and gave him a three-minute standing ovation.

Fall in review

Paths to Inclusion
Paths to Inclusion

Special thanks to everyone who was able to join us for our first joint diversity and inclusion symposium Paths to Inclusion, co-sponsored in partnership with Zendesk. It was a success with approximately 150 in attendance. The keynote speakers Tanya Odom and Marsha Bonner were phenomenal, the panel presenters were insightful and gave great real-life examples of their own experiences around addressing divisive conversations in the workplace. Our Rising Stars performers, Elijah Edwards and Danielle Crim, shone bright as they both received standing ovations for their performances. We strengthened our ties with one of our community partners around D & I and brought together staff from two different but important disciplines, art and technology.

Here is a powerful recap of the symposium by The Capital Times.

Listen Local – Fall Gospel Fest Choir
Fall Gospel Fest Choir

Listen Local

The Fall Gospel Fest Choir presented a rousing and engaging Listen Local performance just before Soweto Gospel Choir – Songs of Freedom. The choir rocked the house, had the audience singing, dancing and clapping to the music and set the tone for the evening that was full of energy, melodic sounds and joy. The Fall Gospel Fest sixteen-member choir featured some of the most prominent voices in the Madison area. Individually, many of the choir members are well established in the local gospel music scene. The Fall Gospel Fest Choir was under the direction of Minister Letrice Stanley of Nashville, TN.

Soweto Gospel Choir – Songs of Freedom
Soweto Gospel Choir – Songs of Freedom

Our spirits were lifted by the Soweto Gospel Choir, the more than 30-member ensemble blending gospel, spirituals, reggae and American pop. With joyful South African harmonies, Soweto’s powerful and memorable performance brought a sense of joy and hope to everyone in the room.

E Faye Butler
E Faye Butler

E Faye Butler kicked off our 2018/19 Cabaret Series. The accomplished, highly decorated singer/actress and Lunt- Fontaine Fellow performed songs of the all-time greats like Lena Horne, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald to name a few. The Capitol Theater stage was full to capacity as the venue was sold out months in advance.

Kenny G
Kenny G

Kenny G, one of the great sax musicians of our time, put on an unforgettable concert in historic Capitol Theater. Michelle Belnavis and Marvin will not soon forget this night-- their names were drawn in a special raffle to be serenaded by Kenny G himself on stage. They additional received an autographed tenor saxophone that was designed and signed by Kenny G himself. What a night to remember.

Ballet Folklórico de México
Ballet Folklórico de México

We are excited to have been able to host over 240 members of the Latino Community at the Ballet Folklórico de México dance performance on Tuesday, November 6th. What a great experience to be able to celebrate the cultural traditions of Mexico with Spanish speaking community, members from throughout the area. In addition, we were able to host a special meet and greet at the conclusion of the concert with members of this acclaimed international dance group. There were autographs, photos, selfies and fun had by all.

The following email was sent from Centro Hispano, one of our community partners that joined us at Ballet Folklórico de México:


I would like to say thank you so much for all the support from you, Overture Center and all the people that made this possible. Families were super happy and they talk a lot about it. Some people cried. I heard people singing, smiling. What a beautiful show and what a precious gift you gave us. I have gone to other shows to Overture Center, but this is the first time that I see many Latinos there. Having a bus was very nice of you.

Please come to Centro when you want, this is your home!

Thank you,

Karime Pérez Jaime
Wellness Program Coordinator
Centro Hispano of Dane County

Fun Home

Fun Home - Forward Theater

Kudos to Forward Theater for producing this unique, funny and heart- shattering musical that zig-zags across main character Alison’s past and present as she tries to make sense of her parents’ lives, her own sexuality, and how she maps the terrain of her adult world.

Jen Uphoff Gray, Artistic Director for Forward Theater Company says, "It was such a thrill to present Fun Home! The musical was seen by nearly 8,000 people, we managed to shatter all of our previous box office records. But what was truly special about the experience was witnessing the effect this production had on our audiences. We were overwhelmed at the feedback we received, especially regarding the representation of the LGBTQ community and people of color in this one-of-a-kind story. And the fact that we were able to produce the show with a team consisting entirely of Wisconsin artists made this project all the more rewarding. We're proud to exist in a city that values this kind of storytelling and local artistry!”

Terrance Carey

Second City - Dysfunctional Holiday Revue

Terrance Carey, a Madison native, performed as a member of the ensemble improv troupe Second City for a sold-out, standing-room-only house in Capitol Theater, SAT DEC 1. The Dysfunctional Holiday Revue hilariously poked fun at what really happens over the holidays when friends, family and loved ones get together. No topics were off-limits, so it was a great way for all in attendance to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

After their on-stage talk back session, many of the cast and crew came up for a special post-show meet and greet to celebrate the hometown hero and celebrity, Terrance, and the entire cast and crew for a great show.

Upcoming Programs & Events


SAT, JAN 26, 8:30 PM

Get your tickets now for Frostiball on Saturday, January 26, 2019!. That’s the night you will want to be here at Overture, helping us celebrate during our biggest soiree of the year, Overture’s Frostiball 2019. You’ll be enjoying sumptuous appetizers and desserts, dancing to live music by The Upbeat Orchestra, sipping signature craft cocktails and rubbing elbows with fellow arts enthusiasts — all while supporting the state’s largest nonprofit arts organization, Overture Center for the Arts.


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Overture Center for the Arts
201 State Street, Madison, WI 53703

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