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Overture Center for the Arts

Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter

JUN 2018

Summer is around the corner and so winds down another season at Overture! We’re proud of the work that we’re doing to make our organization a place where everyone in the community feels welcome. Though the season is coming to a close, the work doesn’t stop! I hope you’ll enjoy learning about some of the recent and upcoming D&I programs and events in this JUN 2018 edition of Overture Center for the Arts’ Diversity and Inclusion Newsletter.

We’ve been busy over the last several months, and are especially glad to have had several opportunities recently to highlight and engage with area students of diverse backgrounds, both onstage and off. In particular, we were thrilled to celebrate our own Amadou Kromah and his photography as he prepares to graduate from La Follette HS and compete in the national ACT-SO competition in San Antonio!

We also call out a few upcoming performances later this summer and fall that you’ll want to be sure not to miss – take a look and mark your calendar now!

Allow me to take a moment to once again thank you for your continued support of Overture and our diversity and inclusion efforts. I hope that you will continue to engage with us and reach out with any ideas or opportunities to further this work with communities with whom you are connected.    


Ed Holmes, PhD
Director of Diversity & Inclusion
Overture Center for the Arts

Reframing the Narrative

Photo by Amber Arnold, Wisconsin State Journal

Overture Celebrates Amadou Kromah


On SAT, MAY 12, Overture celebrated the work Amadou Kromah, soon-to-be graduate of La Follette High School and local, award-winning photographer. Since 2016, Kromah has been working with Overture as a freelance photographer, capturing images from performances by Boyz II Men, Patti LaBelle, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; free and low-cost programs like Kids in the Rotunda and OnStage Series; and Overture's annual fundraiser, Frostiball.

The celebration featured a display of Kromah’s work, a live auctioning of three framed pieces, and a slate of speakers including: Enis Ragland, Deputy Mayor of the City of Madison; Frances Huntley Cooper of the NAACP of Dane County; Lex Poppens, Director of Marketing and Sales at Overture Center for the Arts, Dr. Ruben Anthony, Jr., President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and J. Carter Ralphe, MD, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

Nearly 100 people attended over the course of event from 2:00 – 5:00 PM to celebrate Kromah’s hard work and impending graduation, as well as his rising star in the photography world. In July, Kromah will compete in the 2018 National ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) competition, where he one silver in 2017. Following graduation and traveling to ACT-SO, Kromah hopes to launch a photography business and perhaps eventually attend college to study business.

Student Event with Cast of


Photo by Amadou Kromah

On FRI, MAY 18, Overture hosted a group of more than 50 students and parents of Latinx heritage from East and La Follette High Schools for a special pre-show event and performance of ON YOUR FEET!, the Emilio & Gloria Estefan Musical.

Prior to attending the performance, students participated in a meet and greet at Madison College with members of the cast of ON YOUR FEET!, who spoke about what it is like pursuing a career in the arts. Students were also treated to dinner for El Pastor Mexican Restaurant prior to making their way to Overture to enjoy the show!

Special thanks to Broadway Across America, Bell Laboratories Inc., Lexus of Madison and NBC 15 for sponsoring ON YOUR FEET!.

2018 Disney Musicals in Schools Student Share Celebration


Photo by Martin Jenich

On WED, MAY 23, students from Frank Allis Elementary, Leopold Community and Nuestro Mundo Community Schools took the stage in the Capitol Theater as part of this year’s Disney Musicals in Schools Student Share Celebration.

Disney Musicals in Schools is an education initiative with a goal of creating sustainable musical theater programs in primarily low-income elementary schools, currently in seven Madison schools. The three participating Madison Metropolitan School District schools were new to the program this year. Each school participated in a 17-week musical theater residency with Overture’s Teaching Artists that culminated in 30-45 minute Disney KIDS Musical performance(s) at their school.

The Student Share Celebration celebrated the amazing work the students, teachers and teaching artists did over the course of the residency. Each school performed one song from their musical, either The Jungle Book KIDS or The Lion King KIDS, on the Capitol Theater stage.

The event was hosted by Lindsay Christians of The Capital Times and Alanna Medearis, Overture Center Director of Education and Community Engagement, with more than 310 in attendance! Congratulations to all our student participants!    

Engagement Opportunity:
Become a Volunteer Usher

As previously mentioned, Overture is seeking to create a more diverse and inclusive usher team that is reflective of the diversity in the community we serve. The Overture Usher Team is an integral group of volunteers who greet guests, scan tickets, and seat patrons – often, they are the first members of the Overture Team to interact with guests when they come to Overture.

Please spread the word about this important opportunity to anyone who might be interested. For questions or more information, contact Ed Holmes at eholmes@overture.org or by replying to this email.

Recently at Overture

Black Violin
THU, MAY 3, 7:30 PM

On THU, MAY 3, as part of a special D&I Outreach effort, more than 150 community partners - including Millionaires Club, YWCA, Girls Inc. of Greater Madison, and more - came to Overture to enjoy the hard-hitting beats and lush string sounds of Black Violin [Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin)]. Students from the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO) joined Black Violin on stage for a special collaborative performance!

Earlier that day, Black Violin also performed to a sold-out crowd of students as part of Overture’s OnStage Student Field Trip Series!

Special thanks to The Burish Group at UBS Financial Services Inc., CUNA Mutual Group, Full Compass and Wisconsin Public Radio for sponsoring this performance.  

Dance Theatre of Harlem
TUE, MAY 8, 7:30 PM

On TUE, MAY 8, Overture welcomed Dance Theatre of Harlem to Overture Hall for a thrilling program of neo-classical and contemporary ballet that is of the moment and timeless. This racially diverse group of dance artists brought a message of empowerment and celebration of African American Culture through cutting-edge contemporary and ballet works to the Madison community. 

On WED, MAY 9, the group also performed for students as part of the OnStage Student Field Trip Series.

Special thanks to Bell Laboratories Inc. for sponsoring this performance. Underwritten with generous gifts from Joe & Mary Ellyn Sensenbrenner, Jeff & Tiffany Mack and Cedric Ellis.

Coming Next...

There are many engagement opportunities at Overture on the horizon; below are just a few! I invite you to join me at these or any upcoming events at Overture.

Tajmo: The Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo' Band with Jontavious Willis
WED, AUG 8, 7:30 PM

“We wanted to do a real good record together, but we didn’t want to do the record that everyone expected us to do,” blues legend Taj Mahal says of TajMo, his historic collaboration with fellow true believer Keb’ Mo’. “There wasn’t a bunch of cryin’ and ringin’ hands, we just got together and it came together pretty naturally. I think it’s a pretty upbeat, celebratory record, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Indeed, TajMo, released on May 5, 2017 via Concord Records, marks a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of the talents of two unique American artists who’ve already built significant individual legacies that have consistently expanded and extended American blues traditions into astonishing new territory. The collaboration brings out the best in both artists, who merge their distinctive voices, personalities and guitar styles to create vibrant, immediate music that’s firmly rooted in tradition yet ruled by a restless, spirited sense of adventure.

Special thanks to Wisconsin Public Radio and The Isthumus. for sponsoring this performance.

The Greatest Love of All:
The Whitney Houston Show

FRI, AUG 10, 7:30 PM

Whitney’s musical legacy is brought to life in this critically acclaimed stage show described as “mind-blowingly spot on”.

Be stunned by the breathtaking vocals of Belinda Davids – a RiSA chart-topping artist in her home country of South Africa – who has performed alongside the likes of Keri Hilson, Keyshia Cole and Monica. With the accompaniment of a five-piece live band, two backing vocalists and four choreographed dancers, plus state-of-the-art sound, lighting, vision and theatrical effects, this is a beautifully crafted tribute to one of the world’s most revered singers.

“A creative triumph on every level” – Theatre People

“Davids sturs the audience in not just vocal ability but star power” – Arts hub

“She feels every song, resulting in a spirited performance” – ToNight

“A show that simply cannot be missed” – TheCitizen

Special thanks to Bell Laboratories for sponsoring this performance.

Mark Your Calendars:
Coming This Fall


WED, OCT 3, 7:30 PM
Kenny G

FRI, OCT 12, 8:00 PM
E. Faye Butler - Songbook of Jazz
THU, OCT 25, 7:00 PM

Race to Equity funding provided by:

Altria, Cummings Christensen Family Foundation, Carl & Mary Gulbrandsen, Philip & Helen Bradbury, Madison Community Foundation, Scherr-Lloyd Fund, Overture Center Foundation Board of Directors and by contributions to Overture Center for the Arts.


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

© 2017 Overture Center for the Arts. All rights reserved.