Having trouble viewing this email?  |  View in browser

Why Equity and Innovation?

Equity and innovation begin with the idea of institutional structures that support sustainable equity, diversity and inclusion across all areas of an organization. At Overture, we aim to increase the presence of diversity on the Overture Center Foundation Board of Directors and within our staff, volunteers, artists and patrons. We define diversity as being inclusive of all groups who have historically been under represented and on the periphery of the arts industry here in Madison. In addition, the definition of diversity includes diversity of thought and perspectives that will elevate our ability to be creative and innovative in addressing new challenges and maximizing new opportunities. The root of our work continues to be deliberate outreach to diverse communities in the greater Madison area, providing access to opportunities in the arts and the space for all people to be a part of Overture Center’s expression of art. We are pleased about this new direction and hope you will join us as we explore how to make these ideals become reality.

Ed Holmes, PhD

Senior Vice President of Equity and Innovation

Overture - Arts Career Exploration Spotlight (ACES)

Local students learn about arts opportunities in Arts Career Exploration Spotlight project

Overture Center’s Arts Career Exploration Spotlight (ACES) program piloted this summer. An initiative from the Equity and Innovation Department, ACES provided 33 Madison-area middle and high-school students a new pathway to exploring local arts organizations and career possibilities in the arts through a series of immersive hands-on learning experiences. The eight-week program created a bridge for young people who have been systemically left out of the arts and provided activities customized to their needs, interests and abilities. Overture partnered with arts organizations in and around Madison to offer various perspectives on working in an expansive range of visual and performing arts. Students were encouraged to engage in various arts forms—from painting, poetry and music to dance and theater. They gained introductory knowledge to varied arts careers, including administration, practicing artists and technical careers. A special thanks to all 61 arts professionals and the many organizations that supported ACES in its inaugural summer experience.

The following video clip captures the essence of the ACES program and student experience with original music by ACES students:

ACES Video

Lullaby Project launches in Madison

The Lullaby Project, conceived by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute uses the creative process of songwriting to improve maternal health and child bonds with pregnant women and new mothers. Together with local singer-songwriters, mothers and mothers-to-be are creating personal lullabies for their children, expressing their hopes and dreams for the future.

In September, Overture began piloting this project in partnership with Harambee Village Doulas. Their mission is to enhance the childbearing experience, empower women by promoting doula support, advocate evidenced based care and provide accessible education, based on the mother-centered model of maternity care, and to engage stakeholders around health and racial equity work in respect to maternal and child health. Harambee is working closely with Overture Center and various community partners to explore health equity and racial disparities in respect to maternal and child health, and to discuss ways in which we can collectively enhance the childbearing experience for all women regardless of race. This is the beginning of a program Overture plans on developing and growing over the years.

The music created by the mothers, songwriters and musicians during the pilot will be professionally recorded on a CD and showcased in a special community performance at Kids in the Rotunda on March 28, 2020.

Overture is currently hiring additional songwriters to be a part of the project. If you know of someone who may be a good fit, please reach out to Alanna Medearis at amedearis@overture.org.    

Overture Celebrates Goodman Center’s Grand Opening


From spring through fall, Overture is excited to take its popular Kids in the Rotunda series into community centers, festivals and other celebrations to share performances and artistic experiences with families in our community. Most recently, we partnered with Goodman Community Center to bring a special day of energetic, multicultural performances to their Not Just Another Grand Opening event on Sunday, Sept. 29.  Performers included the Wisconsin Dells Singers, Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association, Panchromatic Steel, Mt. Zion Children’s Choir and Golpe Tierra. 

2019 Wisconsin Leadership Summit held OCT 7 - 8

Madison365 hosted the second annual Wisconsin Leadership Summit on Oct. 7-8 at Overture Center and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art with over 600 attendees. The most influential African American and Latino leaders from across Wisconsin, as named in Madison365’s Black Power and Si Se Puede lists over the past four years, gathered along with business leaders, community members, college and high school students and others to engage in important discussions around diversity, inclusion, equity and talent retention.

The energy, excitement and anticipation of attendees was palpable as they prepared to work on so many areas that are critical to the families and communities we serve across this state.

Special thanks to Overture’s President and CEO Sandra Gajic for her wholehearted support of this summit: “She was the first to recognize the importance and value of having an event like this at Overture,” said Ed Holmes. “It was an uplifting and energizing time, filled with culture, great food, networking and socializing, opportunities and challenges. Henry got it right when he said we are facing these challenges together because we are indeed better when we stand together.”

Chairs named for Community Advisory Committee

Dawn Crim
Re-elected Chair

Eugenia Podesta

Eugenia Podesta
Newly-elected Vice Chair

The Community Advisory Committee (formerly known as CAB), formally recognized as an advisory committee to Overture Center’s Board, continues its valuable work to engage diverse communities at Overture and make relevant cornerstone contributions, such as the establishment of the newly adopted land recognition honoring the Ho Chunk Nation. The Overture Center Board submitted and approved the following land recognition statement:

“Acknowledging Ho-Chunk Nation’s ancestral lands, Overture Center for the Arts celebrates the rich traditions, heritage and culture that thrived long before our arrival. Overture respectfully recognizes this Ho-Chunk land and affirms that we are better when we stand together.”

Black Violin spreads encouraging message

The Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) student conference at the Madison Concourse Hotel culminated for participants with complimentary admission to a high-energy performance by Black Violin at Overture Center on Friday, Oct. 25.

Three hundred student leaders gathered at the MSAN 20th annual conference, hosted by the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, to engage in discussions about barriers students of color face in their school districts, network with students across the country to craft solutions, share their ideas about how to motivate students and staff to meet their potential and develop plans of action to implement their ideas.

Black Violin is led by classically trained string players Wil Baptiste on the viola and Kev Marcus on the violin with DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes. The group’s Impossible Tour spreads an encouraging message that anything is possible and there are no limits to what one can achieve, regardless of circumstance. 

Latino Art Fair showcases how Art Heals

Organized as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the 7th annual Latino Art Fair on Saturday, Oct. 12 was a wonderful and successful collaboration with the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County, Centro Hispano, Food Fight Restaurant Group and the City of Madison. Themed El Arte Cura (Art Heals), the art fair highlighted the work of many Latino artists from South Central Wisconsin and attracted approximately 800 attendees. Artists and coordinators were pleased with the steady flow of traffic throughout the entire day.

The day featured plenty of visual arts, cultural artifacts, music and dancing as we explored the power of various art forms to heal and empower. The artists’ stories promoted the strong traditions of the strength, beauty and resilience of the Latino culture.

Mariachi Herencia de México shares their art, music, attire and traditions in an amazing performance

Following outreach to the Latino Chamber of Commerce, Centro Hispano, Latino Nation, educators and a number of other Latino groups, we’re happy to report more than 800 guests attended the Mariachi Herencia de Mexico concert on Saturday, Oct. 12 with standing room only at the meet and greet.

“It was an honor to meet the members of this Grammy nominated group after their powerful and engaging performance,” said Ed Holmes. “The experience was even more remarkable when I realized the group was comprised primarily of 15-17-year-old high school students from the Chicago Schools. It changed the meaning of the entire experience!”

In an inspiring conversation, the members talked about their dedication to their work and how much they enjoy performing and sharing their art, cultural music, attire and traditions across the country. Their demeanor was warm, respectful, professional and thankful—and appreciative for the opportunity to meet members of the Madison community who had invited them to perform as part of a larger community event at the annual Latino Art Fair.

“At the conclusion of the reception, unplanned but on cue, every member of the group lined up to shake my hand and personally thank me for the opportunity to come to Overture and meet members of the community who supported them by attending their performance,” said Holmes. “What an impressive group—and what a great way to conclude an incredible day of art, culture and community.”

Coming Soon!
Ho-Chunk Art: Sharing Our Sacred Voice through our Art

Overture is proud to partner with Ho-Chunk Madison Gaming to present Ho-Chunk Art: Sharing our Sacred Voice through our Art, an exhibit showcasing Ho-Chunk creativity, from traditional cultural items to contemporary visual art.



You are warmly invited to attend the reception on FRI, NOV 1, 6-8 PM.  Enjoy indigenous hors d’oeuvres prepared by Wild Bearies caterers and see the pageantry of the Ho-Chunk culture with exhibition dances by The Wisconsin Dells Singers and Dancers led by Elliot Funmaker celebrating the beauty of Ho-Chunk people.

The original peoples of the Madison area are the Ho-Chunk. In English, Ho-Chunk translates to People of the Sacred Voice. Despite the arduous times faced by the Ho-Chunk, their culture and creativity have endured. While there is no word for art in the Ho-Chunk language, there are words to describe beauty and goodness. Contemporary mixed media art will be juxtaposed with traditional Ho-Chunk art forms that blend natural materials obtained through local foraging and harvest and paired with commercial art products that reflect our adaptive lifeways.

This exhibit, curated by Melanie Tallmadge Sainz, founder of Little Eagle Art Foundation, will include 15 Ho-Chunk artists from Wisconsin and beyond and provide a broad perspective of the values and traditions of their heritage. Tribal elders and creative trailblazers Truman Lowe (1944–2019) and Harry Whitehorse (1927–2017) will be highlighted in this exhibit. The contributions made by these elders have inspired countless contemporary Ho-Chunk artists to continue a legacy of preserving their culture through the arts.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison is a generous sponsor of this exhibition.

Ho Chunk Gaming

Wynton Marsalis

Join us for Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Outreach is underway with Toki Middle School and its 50 members of the Delores Marsalis Jazz Education program. A close friend of Delores Marsalis and the Marsalis family dedicated funds to create a jazz ensemble and teach jazz to the middle school students at Toki.

“We are working with the Madison School District to bring the group to the Overture for the performance and a special meet and greet with the jazz icon Wynton Marsalis,” said Ed Holmes. “Our goal is to enhance the students’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of jazz. We appreciate the opportunity to engage young aspiring artists in a way that encourages and inspires them to delve deeper into such an important music art form.”

In addition, we are extending a special invitation to 150 high school students and their families who have an ongoing working relationship with Wynton and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra through the Essentially Ellington Program.  The Essentially Ellington schools in our area are Sun Prairie, Middleton, and Beloit High.  

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.


Update your email preferences here.
If you no longer wish to receive our updates, please click to be removed.

Please do not respond to this email. Click here if you are having trouble viewing this email.

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

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