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Overture Center for the Arts

Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter

APR 2018

Spring is in the air at Overture (even if the weather might not agree)! There’s an extra hour of light each day and I feel like I need every bit of it for all the great and exciting work we’re doing to make Overture more inclusive every day. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about some of our work in this third edition of Overture Center for the Arts’ Diversity and Inclusion Newsletter for APR 2018. 

There are a whole lot of upcoming engagement opportunities at Overture over the next few months. We highlight several of them below, including a production presented by Theatre LILA called LINES, playing from FRI, APR 20 – SUN, APR 29 in Promenade Hall. We also recap some of the goings-on of the last two months here at Overture, including International Festival and the show-stopping performance by the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire. Finally, we’re renewing our call for volunteer ushers of diverse backgrounds; we hope you’ll share the opportunity for a special training session with your network.

Thank you again for your continued support and engagement.   


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

You're Invited...

LINES presented by Theatre LILA

FRI, APR 20 - SUN, APR 29
Promenade Hall

The Overture Office of Diversity and Inclusion would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come support female voices of color at Overture by attending the world premiere of LINES: A Theatre LILA Invention, playing FRI, APR 20 – SUN, APR 29 in Promenade Hall.

Now in its fourth year producing theatre in Madison, Theatre LILA’s mission is “to create inventive new works and bring transformational theatre experiences to a diverse population of our community.” With LINES, Theatre LILA has commissioned five female playwrights of color to create fierce, honest portrayals of the lines in their lives – that separate and connect; that need to be crossed, erased, and drawn again; that are invisible and in-between.

“This show has evolved into a little bit of everything; monologues, movement pieces, spoken word poetry, and scenes. And obviously physical storytelling is a huge part of the performance,” says co-writer and director Melisa Pereyra. “It’s been a privilege to collaborate with some truly remarkable women making theatre that is socially conscious and includes a wide variety of perspectives. Our conversations have been rich, nuanced and necessary. Above all, I wanted to create a platform where women of color could tell their own stories.”

You can read more about LINES in a feature in BRAVA Magazine's April 2018 edition by clicking the red “LEARN MORE” button or buy tickets by clicking the red “BUY TICKETS” button below.

Celebrating Amadou Kromah

Photographic Exhibit and
Live Auction

SAT, MAY 12, 2:00 - 5:00 PM
Promenade Terrace

On SAT, MAY 12, Overture will celebrate the work of local photographer Amadou Kromah. A high school senior and soon-to-be graduate of La Follette High School in Madison, Kromah has been working with Overture as a freelance photographer since 2016. Among the many events and performances Kromah has photographed during that time, some highlights include performances by Boyz II Men, Patti LaBelle, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; Frostiball 2017 and 2018; free and low-cost programs like Kids in the Rotunda and OnStage Series; as well as all the photography for the new Local Legends display kiosk in the Rotunda lobby.

Kromah first came to Overture through a connection with Dr. Ed Holmes, Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Then new in his role at Overture, Holmes saw a chance to support a young person’s interest in art and provide Kromah with opportunities to practice his skills by documenting some of the Center’s efforts around Diversity & Inclusion. It was while photographing the outreach event for local students to attend a performance of DRUMLine Live! in March 2017 that Kromah was approached by the Dane County NAACP and encouraged to enter the local ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) competition. After entering and winning a gold medal in photography at the Dane County competition, Kromah went on to win a silver medal in photography at the 2017 National ACT-SO Competition in Baltimore. Later this month, Kromah will compete in the 2018 Dane County ACT-SO, with the hopes of winning gold at the National competition this summer.

“Amadou is an example of what it looks like when we support young people, especially African American males, to find their passion,” said Holmes. “As community members, we have a responsibility to help change the narrative, and provide pathways and opportunities for our young people that they may not imagine possible. I’m proud that in Amadou’s case, Overture was able to help him identify his arts-related passion, nurture it and show him how he could continue to pursue it in the future.”

The celebration on MAY 12 will take place from 2:00 – 5:00 PM and feature a display of Kromah’s work, a live auctioning of a framed piece, and a slate of speakers including representatives from the City of Madison Mayor’s Office, NAACP of Dane County and Overture Center for the Arts, along with Dr. Ruben Anthony of the Urban League of Greater Madison and J. Carter Ralphe, MD, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

This celebration shines a spotlight on one of Madison’s up and coming stars and helps us reframe the narrative about African American males in our community and beyond. We hope you are able to attend this important community event.    

Community Spotlight

Photo by Laura Zastrow Photography    

Girls Inc. of Greater Madison and Goodman Community Center:
International Women's Day


On THU, MAR 8, Overture was honored to host Girls Inc. of Greater Madison and the Goodman Community Center for a celebration of International Women’s Day. The inspiring evening featured three strong, smart & bold women speakers — an ultra-marathoner / author, a photographer / activist, and a singer / songwriter — whose messages about overcoming challenges surely empowered all in attendance. The event also celebrated the incredible work that Girls Inc. of Greater Madison is doing to provide life-changing experiences to girls, encouraging them to take risks and master physical, intellectual and emotional challenges.  In 2017, nearly 600 girls — from elementary to high school — participated in Girls Inc. at 14 schools and community centers throughout Madison.

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.

Overture will be holding a special, mid-season training for individuals of diverse backgrounds who are interested in becoming ushers. The training will be held in the next few months; those interested will receive more information about the timing of the training as it becomes available.

We need your help! 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

2018 International Festival

On SAT, FEB 24, 250 artists and vendors representing the rich cultural heritage of Dane County participated in Overture's annual 2018 International Festival, with cuisines, arts and crafts, and performances representing cultures from all over the globe. Some of the many countries and cultures represented included Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Czechia, Ghana, Greece, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Persia, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and more. All told, attendees partook in more than 13,000 experiences throughout the day celebrating the diversity and vibrancy of our community!

Special thanks to Madison Community Foundation, CUNA Mutual Group, Friends of Overture, Ho-Chunk Gaming and Dane Arts, with additional funds from the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, the Evjue Foundation Inc., the charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation for supporting International Festival.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Following International Festival, the day culminated with a performance by the 2017 Grammy Award® Winners for Best World Music Album, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Hailing from South Africa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has capitvated audiences worldwide with their uplifting vocal harmonies, signature dance moves and charming onstage banter for more than 50 years – and their performance at Overture was no exception! Attendees were swaying to the music and dancing in their seats all night long – the perfect end to a celebratory day!

Earth, Wind & Fire + Pre-Show "Old School Jam"

On SAT, MAR 24, Overture was thrilled to welcome one of the world top-selling groups of all-time, Earth, Wind & Fire. One of the most important, innovative and commercially invincible contemporary forces of the 20th century, Earth, Wind & Fire has released 23 albums, recorded eight #1 R&B singles and eight Double Platinum Top 10 Pop Albums since bursting onto the scene in 1969. Playing to a sold-out Overture Hall, Earth, Wind & Fire had the joint bumpin’ for the entirety of their 2-hour-plus set, delivering an experience and a night that attendees won’t soon forget.

Prior to the performance, the Overture Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a pre-show reception and “Old-School Jam Session” at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Our community partners enjoyed appetizers and drinks while grooving to the tracks laid down by DJ Pain 1. There was even a bit of Wobble-With-It dancing as guests got in the mood for Earth, Wind & Fire later that night!

Cultural Dualities Through a Contemporary Lens
Overture Galleries Artists' Talk

On WED, APR 4 at 6:00 PM, a free talk and community conversation took place in Promenade Hall with Erika Herrera, Dakota Mace and David Dexheimer – the artists currently featured in Gallery II of Overture Center.

The gallery show, Redefining Narratives, explores cultural dualities and divides through a contemporary lens. Herrera’s ethereal black and white photographs express her duality as a Mexican American. The intricate weavings of Mace re-contextualize traditional Diné (Navajo) practices, while creating a dialogue on cultural appropriation. Dexheimer’s expressive paintings chronicle recent conflicts between police & the public.

Redefining Narratives will be on display through SUN, JUN 13. Gallery II can be found on the second floor of Overture Center, extending from the Rotunda Lobby to the Capitol Theater.

Coming Next...

There are many engagement opportunities at Overture on the horizon; below are just a few. We will be conducting specialized outreach to our community partners for these and other exciting events coming up this season!

Black Violin
THU, MAY 3, 7:30 PM

Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin) bridge the gap between classical and hip-hop as they create hard-hitting beats with lush string sounds. Black Violin, who have collaborated with P. Diddy, Kanye West, Tom Petty and more, blend classical, hip-hop, rock, R&B and bluegrass music. Live, they are accompanied by their band, featuring turntable whiz DJ SPS.

“Black Violin works hard, but makes it all look like play… Sometimes they play with the intense seriousness of orchestral soloists; at others they fiddle as if at a hoedown; at still others they strum the violin and viola like guitars.” – The New York Times

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

Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, Dance Theatre of Harlem was considered “one of ballet’s most exciting undertakings” (The New York Times, 1971). After four decades, they promise a thrilling program of neo-classical and contemporary ballet that is of the moment and timeless. With cutting-edge contemporary and ballet works to celebrate African American culture, the racially diverse dance artists carry a message of empowerment.

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

On Your Feet!
TUE, MAY 15 -

From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. From international superstardom to life-threatening tragedy, ON YOUR FEET! takes you behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet. Directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and an original book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman), ON YOUR FEET! features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century — and one of the most inspiring stories in music history.

Special thanks to Broadway Across America, Bell Laboratories Inc., Lexus of Madison and NBC 15 for sponsoring this performance.

Overture and Black Star Drumline at Mendota Elementary
TUE, APR 24, 5:30 PM

April is “Celebrate Diversity” Month and Overture Center for the Arts will partner with Mendota Elementary School on a community-wide event featuring Black Star Drum Line on APR 24 at 5:30 PM to celebrate the importance and history of drumming in African and African-American culture.

This collaborative event will allow Overture to support arts engagement at one of Madison’s Title I schools, while building a sense of community and celebrating diversity. The event will also include a soul food meal, provided by locally-owned Carter’s Catering.

All Mendota School families will be invited, and the school will conduct outreach to the greater-Mendota community to encourage attendance among local neighbors. By bringing Black Star Drum Line into the school, and inviting parents, families and neighbors, Overture will create an educational and celebratory event that will connect the greater community around Mendota School.

Special thanks to Cinnaire and JLA Architects + Planners for sponsoring this event.


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

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