NYS Arts Gala to Honor Cook and More; Featuring Performances by O'Hara and Luker

By: Oct. 30, 2008
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NYS ARTS – a thirty three-year old, non-profit New York service association for community based arts and cultural organizations – will present four awards for outstanding leadership and advocacy of the arts in New York State. Tony award winner, Barbara Cook; Elysabeth Kleinhans’ 59E59 Theaters, Phoebe Jacobs, Executive Vice President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, and Kristin Swain, Executive Director of The Rockwell Museum of Western Art, will all be recognized for outstanding commitment and dedication to arts education and advocacy.

This year’s award ceremony and annual gala will be held at the Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street, Monday, November 17th. Stephanie Simon, the arts reporter for NY1 News, the 24-hour news cable channel, will emcee the event.  Honorary chairs are Stephen C. Byrd and Alia M. Jones.

In recognition of legendary honoree Barbara Cook, Broadway performers, Kelli O’Hara, Rebecca Luker and Michael Dansicker will be serenading Cook’s legend by singing a musical homage. In addition, jazz greats Arturo O’Farrill and Jon Faddis will be paying tribute to patron of the jazz community, Phoebe Jacobs.

The evening will also feature a silent auction with items available to bidders such as artwork by Stuart Davis and De La Vega, artwork donated by Christo and Jeanne-Claude with an opening bid of $4,000, and jazz CDs signed by Wynton Marsalis and Sonny Rollins. Also available will be tickets to New York cultural events such as The Metropolitan Opera, Parsons Dance, a meet-and-greet with Michael Feinstein at his holiday concert, and a Night on Broadway Red Carpet with NY1 News. Honoree Phoebe Jacobs has also agreed to donate a cancelled Louis Armstrong stamp for the auction.

“We are enthusiastic about framing the younger generation’s nod to the older generation as they praise our honorees with musical selections. This is one more way that we are trying to usher in the next generation to service the arts,” said Judith Kaufman Weiner, Executive Director of NYS ARTS. “The honorees, who have spent much of their lives advancing the arts, are all incredible examples of individuals and organizations that are inspiring future generations of New Yorkers.”

Barbara Cook has captivated America with her voice for more than fifty years bringing a passion for the performing arts to her audiences. The singer, actress, Tony Award winner and Broadway Hall of Famer has paved the way for musical theatre artists since her debut on the Great White Way in 1951. A leading star of the Broadway stage during the 1950s and 60s, Ms. Cook created classic roles in three landmark musicals – Cunegonde in Candide, Marian the Librarian in The Music Man and Amalia in She Loves Me. In 1976 she embarked on an unparalleled second career as an international concert artist. In 2006 she made her solo concert debut at the Metropolitan Opera, when she became the first female pop singer to be presented by the MET in its 125-year history. Last year she celebrated her 80th Birthday with three sold out concerts with the NY Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.  Her most recent CD is the just-released Rainbow ‘Round My Shouder from DRG Records.

Phoebe Jacobs, jazz enthusiast and Executive Director of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, has always been a familiar face in the jazz industry. As a young adult working at her parents’ jazz club she met and worked with legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Duke Ellington. She became Louis Armstrong’s publicist in the 1950s and eventually the Executive Director of his foundation. She became very close with his family and spent years ensuring his legend was honored by becoming very much involved in initiatives such as that of the Louis Armstrong postal stamp. She is also a board member of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives located in Corona, Queens. Adding to her list of contributions to the arts, she founded the Jazz Foundation of America, which assists older musicians experiencing financial struggles or health difficulties.

Kristin Swain, President of the Board of Trustees of the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, was named its Executive Director in 2002. She has been involved with the museum in various ways since its establishment in 1976 and oversaw much of its growth over the years. She serves on boards of numerous arts organizations including the Alliance of New York State Arts Councils as well as the Clemens Center.

59E59 Theaters evolved from the mind of Elysabeth Kleinhans. The theater complex, which opened only four years ago, is owned and operated by the Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation. The brand new complex is a state-of-the-art space intended for non-profit theater companies that would normally be unable to afford typical licensing fees. 59E59 provides affordable packages for undiscovered artists, giving them the opportunity to showcase their work.

About Us:

NYS ARTS has a 30-year history of providing leadership and vision and delivering services, resources and tools that strengthen cultural organizations. NYS ARTS also provides education on statewide and national issues affecting the arts and assists local arts agencies in building community support.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the organization’s efforts.

Tickets for this event are still available; please call 631-298-1234 for more information.  For more information about the Alliance, please visit www.thealliancenys.org.