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Despite the tumultuous year of 2020—with a 100-year pandemic, historic flooding, wild fires and economic crisis—and the harrowing experience at the outset of 2021 with an insurrection at our US Capitol intended to uproot and destroy our democracy, our insistent focus on hope and love has prevailed. It has carried us through some of the darkest times. 

I am convinced that from these tragedies, art will emerge in all its glorious forms, not only to tell the stories of these turbulent times but to chart a new path toward a shared humanity. Art will serve as a reflection of what we have endured together. And it will represent the beauty of what lies ahead if we continue our vigilance, looking forward in a way that recognizes the power of our collective will and determination, no matter the adversarial conditions in front of us. 

We are stronger than we know. We are in a new time and space to uplift diversity, innovation, creativity and talent. We are experiencing a renaissance of ideas and energy to create new and better ways of being, reflecting a more refined humanity and recognizing the importance of all people. 

No doubt, we will emerge better than before. Though we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, economic challenge and racial divide, we are no longer in a state of heightened alert. That ongoing pervasive tension has been lifted. There is a new feeling that allows us to have a collective sigh of relief as we move into a time for healing and rebuilding.

We eagerly await the time when we can reopen our doors and bring art back to our community. I, like many of you, am not so patiently waiting to share in the experience of live performance and shared visual art. I look forward to reestablishing that much-needed sense of shared extraordinary experiences that heightens us and brings us closer together.

Ed Holmes, PhD
Sr. V.P., Equity and Innovation
Overture Center for the Arts

A letter from Overture Foundation Chair President Pablo Sanchez

Pablo Sanchez headshot

I’m passionate about what we’re doing at Overture Center to engage guests, staff, volunteers, board members and the community in diversity, equity, inclusion and innovation. Our goal is to create a place where people belong. It doesn’t matter where you came from or what you look like or what resources you have available. We want everyone to feel welcome and included at Overture, part of the family, where they can feel comfortable being themselves.

I grew up in a Washington farming community, the son of immigrant parents. As I assimilated to American culture, I practiced the language to avoid an accent. I dressed like my friends and acted like them to fit in. But when I visited my family in Mexico, I didn’t quite fit in there anymore. I wasn’t always sure where I belonged.

My experience made me realize how quickly the demographics of our country are changing, and I was not alone in my desire for inclusion.

At Overture, we are working to keep up with the times. We have approved Equity and Innovation Organizational Commitments to help us achieve equitable treatment of employees and elimination of social injustice to create a workplace that values and welcomes diversity. We are committed to recruiting and retaining diverse organizational leadership, board, committee and council members. And we are committed to investing in the activities, programs and initiatives to support an environment that truly provides extraordinary arts experiences for ALL.

As chair of Overture’s Foundation Board, I am pleased that over one third of our board is composed of diverse members of our community, and I appreciate the different ideas and the mindset every board member brings to our team. I manage the meetings in a way that everyone gives input and participates in discussions. This is essential in operating an organization that is so valuable to this community.

I feel we are doing good work at Overture, and there is much more to do. I hope you’ll join me in these critical conversations.

Pablo Sanchez
Vice President of Community Engagement and member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Park Bank

Community Advisory Council elects new leaders

Dr. Consuelo López and Sarah Karlen headshots

Overture Center’s Community Advisory Council (CAC) recently elected Dr. Consuelo López as its new chair and Sarah Karlen as vice-chair.

The CAC is appreciative of the outstanding efforts of past chair, Dawn Crim, whose wisdom and guidance have done much to advance the council’s mission, build bridges with the community at large and enhance collegiality; and to Eugenia Podesta, vice chair, for serving as a sterling example of community leadership.

“Beginning this bold new year, we’ll envision new paths to community solidarity within the Overture organization and our population at large,” said López. “As we move forward with grace and determination, I look forward to sharing your ideas and aspirations.”

36th Annual City and County MLK Day City County Observance

MLK welcoming Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. 2021 Keynote Speaker

Congratulations to the King Coalition on their 36th Annual Madison and Dane County Martin Luther King Day Observance on Jan. 18. We are glad to have provided technical support for this year’s event and to be a platinum sponsor to help bring this important community event to fruition.

Keynote Speaker Eddie S. Glaude Jr. delivered an energetic and inspiring speech that highlighted the fact that Dr. King’s life was not necessarily the way it has been romanticized over time. Glaude talked about King’s life as one filled with daily strife and difficult decisions. He spoke of King’s principals and beliefs as being hard to carry out and put into practice, not only for himself but for his friends, family and loved ones. In fact, on more than one occasion, King told us that the road ahead would be difficult, but if we are to arrive at a brighter future, we could not shy away from the challenges and difficulties we face. Living with that difficulty was a conscience decision made by King, for which he ultimately gave his life: “Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through.” 

Glaude reminded us of King’s words, “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” So we should not be surprised by the challenges we face today. We were forewarned that the road would not be easy, but it is the road we must travel to arrive at a place of equal rights, human rights and dignity for all.

We would also like to extend a hearty congratulations to this year’s Martin Luther King Humanitarian awardees: State Representative Shelia Stubbs, Lilada Gee and Shyra Adams. Thank you for your work in our community and for keeping the legacy of Dr. King alive through your tireless efforts to improve the quality of life for those who are not able to defend or advocate for themselves. 

Madison Community Meal

MLK welcoming Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. 2021 Keynote Speaker

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Overture Center for the Arts and Little John’s Kitchens partnered with Madison’s Central Businesses Improvement District for a community meal on Monday, Jan. 18.

“Martin Luther King Jr. Day has always been a time to not only remember the vital messages from Dr. King’s life and legacy, but to continue to recognize the injustices that are still faced in today’s world for Black people and others suffering from discrimination. The MLK Community Dinner was always an important event to highlight those concerns and raise funds to help right some of the wrongs,” explained Overture Past Board Chair Betty Harris Custer.

Participating downtown businesses fundraised from Jan. 11-17 by offering shoppers, diners and visitors the option of adding a $5 meal onto their final bill.

“Because of the pandemic and not being able to have mass gatherings at the Community Dinner, the Capitol Event, nor at Overture Center for the Arts, we wanted to still elevate the concerns Dr. King brought to light and have a different kind of MLK Community Dinner for all, especially those facing food insecurity,” said Custer.

The event exceeded its goal to fundraise for 2,500 meals, raising money for 2,922 meals. Little John’s prepared and distributed 3,000 meals.

Several organizations jumped in to help when the event needed to be moved from MLK Blvd., due to possible threats from protestors. Thank you to the following organizations that served as meal distribution sites: Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County, Feed the Youth, Greater Madison Resource Center, Black Men Coalition of Dane County, Goodman Community Center and East Madison Community Center.

In addition, Custer Financial Services offered a $1,000 award for the most donations from any downtown business or entity, and Overture won the challenge with 478 meals donated by Overture Center Foundation Board members and Overture Center staff. Overture asked that those funds be donated to Little John’s to continue to feed those who are food insecure.

Coming Soon – International Festival: SAT, FEB 27

Free Virtual Event

Your Passport to the Arts

Shake the February doldrums with a free celebration of our international community in Dane County—all from the comfort of your home. Overture’s 2021 International Festival kicks off with an opening ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. The content will remain available online through March 5.

Enjoy cultural arts performances, cooking demonstrations, visual arts, discussions and more. Guests will access a global map and can “travel the world” at their convenience, participating in shows and activities that fit their personal interests.

“We will present a variety of online performances, short language lessons, interactive discussions, activities for kids, lots of music and dance—really something for everyone,” said Alanna Medearis, director of education and community engagement.

International Festival usually takes place throughout all of Overture Center. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 International Festival is a virtual event. Please register for free at overture.org/intfest.

Underwritten by: Charles & Barbara Saeman

The only way to guarantee legitimate tickets is to buy them directly from Overture Center at overture.org, by phone at 608.258.4141, or in person at the Overture Center Ticket Office. Learn more about safe ticket buying.


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

© 2019 Overture Center for the Arts. All rights reserved.