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Blumenthal Performing Arts
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Winter 2023
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Blumenthal President & CEO Tom Gabbard
Tom Gabbard
Photo by Chris Edward
From the President
Thanks for reading our latest edition of SPARK! Our aim is to share some of the stories that otherwise may go untold about how Blumenthal’s programs strengthen our community and create real opportunity for individuals. Showcasing bold, exciting artistic work from around the world has taken a big step forward with the launch of the Charlotte International Arts Festival (CIAF). Creating a new annual festival with such a focus marks the maturation of our city that we believe is ready for this big new idea. While international arts festivals are seen in other cities, we uniquely weave international artists together with artists from our city and region. Many times artists from the region are treated as second-class citizens rather than as collaborators and peers. This new festival also gives us a chance to highlight the many international cultures and traditions found right here. And thanks to various supporters, most of the events offered were outdoors and free so that everyone could participate.
Broadway fans can consider themselves very lucky when they live in the Charlotte region. Last year, no theatrical presenter in North America announced that more Broadway shows were coming to their city than we did – a record 19 top-tier shows. Charlotte competes very successfully, and well above most larger cities, in bringing the best of recent Broadway and London shows to our stages. The pipeline of new shows is strong since we are early supporters of many new shows by organizing investment capital and providing strategic advice to the producers. We’re particularly eager to support shows that will help us attract diverse audiences. Going way back to 2004, we were among the first investors in the musical version of The Color Purple since we had a hunch it would attract a more diverse audience than the typical musical back then. This season we were honored to co-produce a revival of Death of Salesman, featuring a largely Black cast, led by the exceptional actor Wendell Pierce.
We’re proud of the achievements of the young people from Charlotte that we’ve worked with who have gone on to accomplish extraordinary things. Friends in New York frequently ask, “what’s in the water in Charlotte that grows so much talent.” My reply: It’s the result of years of intentional work. We encourage, advise and open doors for talented young people so they have the chance they deserve to compete.
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Tom Gabbard President, Blumenthal Performing Arts