Blumenthal Performing Arts
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Winter 2021-22
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Blumenthal President & CEO Tom Gabbard
Tom Gabbard

Photo by Chris Edward
From the President

In SPARK, we share stories and insights about how the arts provide uplift and opportunity. This work has never been more challenging than it is now, and its importance to our community has never been greater. I’m proud of our staff, trustees and many partners who refused to give up despite the extraordinary obstacles we have faced since March 2020. This incredible team consistently stayed focused on finding ways to safely serve and strengthen our community. “Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit” will rank as one of the most audacious and remarkable projects Blumenthal Performing Arts has ever undertaken. The show had a run of just over six months that was enjoyed by more than 300,000 people. At the height of the pandemic last winter, during a time of tremendous uncertainty, our board and staff agreed to take on this project with three simple goals. First, to get people back to work – many staff members had been unemployed for over a year. Second, to begin to reactivate audiences. Third, to at least break even since we had lost millions of dollars due to the shutdown. The project put more than 200 dedicated staff members and technicians back to work. Many ticket buyers were experiencing their first live event indoors in over a year. And most remarkably, our staff and artistic partners put the entire project together in four short months with team members connecting from Italy and Canada on zoom since site visits were impossible. While we began “Immersive Van Gogh” with modest goals, the amazing public response has encouraged us to remain active in the niche of unique, immersive productions, particularly those that explore the convergence of art and technology. Stay tuned to learn about what comes next. The business of Broadway in Charlotte and in New York is tightly intertwined. Neither can succeed without the other. We’re proud of talented professionals you’ll read about in SPARK who are demonstrating exceptional leadership to reactivate the Broadway industry. The success of talented creatives from Charlotte is phenomenal. Peers ask me, “What’s in the water in Charlotte?” The real story behind some of this success is years of intentional work to nurture that talent and create pathways to success. Many of those you’ll read about in SPARK prove that an investment in nurturing and showcasing local talent will pay big dividends through their future success. Blumenthal has been lucky over the years to attract key business leaders and thinkers to serve as trustees. A recent addition is Marisa Thalberg, executive vice president, chief brand and marketing officer at Lowe’s. Marisa is one of the top marketing/branding pros in America. She and her husband, David Thalberg, have quickly become active with many community initiatives, and Blumenthal is blessed by their insight and commitment to service and giving back. Over the last few years, Blumenthal has pursued more and more projects outside of its traditional venues. Last fall, we decided to proceed on our own with a number of major projects that were originally slated to be part of Charlotte SHOUT! These projects, which were mainly outdoors, provided a reason for people to come uptown and safely enjoy a walking tour at a time when that uplift was especially needed. We are grateful for the financial support and encouragement of so many. The good things we strive to achieve in our community are only possible thanks to that critical support. Onward and upward
Tom Gabbard President, Blumenthal Performing Arts