TheatreSquared's 2022 Gala For Education And Access Is Almost Sold Out

Esther Silver-Parker to receive 2022 Arts Advocate Award, Margaret and Dick Rutherford to receive inaugural Cornerstone Award.

By: May. 10, 2022
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TheatreSquared's 2022 Gala For Education And Access Is Almost Sold Out

TheatreSquared's 2022 Gala for Education and Access, the theatre's signature annual celebration supporting arts-in-education outreach to 20,000 students throughout Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma is nearly sold out.

The 2022 event will take place Thursday, May 12, at 6:00pm at the Fayetteville Public Library and will feature a performance by Tony Award winner Santino Fontana (Prince Hans in Frozen, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Tootsie) and a three-course summer menu prepared by Chef Matthew Cooper, founding chef of The Preacher's Son and chef/owner of Conifer Restaurant, opening soon in downtown Bentonville.

An outdoor cocktail reception will include signature mixed drinks and entertainment by Funk Factory. Esther Silver-Parker will receive the 2022 Arts Advocate Award, recognizing her indelible contributions to the arts through leadership, inspiration and hard work, and Dick and Margaret Rutherford will receive the Cornerstone Award, honoring their foundational contributions to TheatreSquared through personal leadership and a heartfelt commitment to creating and sustaining Northwest Arkansas' own professional theatre. Spencer Sutterfield, teacher at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School, will receive the Arts Educator Award, recognizing TheatreSquared's partner in education for excellence and dedication in bringing theatre into the classroom. Individual tickets to the evening's event are SOLD OUT; select individual sponsor tickets remain, priced at $250. 2 Table sponsorship opportunities remain. Those interestedin joining the gala celebration should RSVP to (479) 445-6333 or online at

Featured performer Santino Fontana received the 2019 Tony Award for his lead performance in the musical version of Tootsie. He has also received two Drama Desk Awards, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Lortel Award, an Obie Award, and a Clarence Derwent Award in a mix of straight plays and musicals. His Broadway credits include Hello Dolly, Act One, Cinderella, and The Importance of Being Earnest, but he is perhaps best known for lending his voice to Prince Hans in Disney's animated film, Frozen. Other film credits include Sisters, opposite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and Off the Menu, and his television credits include the Emmy Award-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the critically acclaimed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and NBC's Shades of Blue, opposite Jennifer Lopez. Other credits include Fosse/Verdon, Mozart in the Jungle, The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, and Royal Pains. As an interpreter of the American Songbook, Fontana has sung with the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sesame Street Muppets and at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, and more.

At the event, the 2022 Arts Advocate Award will be presented to Esther Silver-Parker. Parker is President and CEO of the SilverParker Group, a consultancy specializing in reputation management, leadership development, and corporate social responsibility. She has served in leadership and volunteer positions for over 50 national and international organizations and has received more than 80 community service and leadership awards. She developed a next generation leadership organization in South Africa and a national leadership program for women and minorities in the U.S., called America's Leaders of Change.

She served as President of the International Women's Forum, an organization of 8,000 women leaders, across 68 countries and 6 continents and continues to serve IWF as a member of its Foundation, as well as global ambassador for the Forum. Silver-Parker is a past member of the Deloitte, Walmart and AARP External Advisory Councils and currently serves as the lead consultant for the American Honda Motors External Advisory Council. She sits on the boards of the Haywood Institute, The NAACP Global Foundation, Art Ventures, TheatreSquared and St Augustine's University. She is actively involved with the German Marshall Fund's Atlantic Dialogues, hosted in Brussels and the Policy Center for the New South Atlantic, hosted in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Recipients of the 2022 Cornerstone Award, Margaret and Dick Rutherford moved to NWA in 1992 from Dallas. This marks the 30th year at Simmons bank for Dick, and Margaret, a clinical psychologist, has operated a solo private practice in Fayetteville since 1993. Margaret's reach has extended into social media, with her highly popular podcast, The SelfWork Podcast, earning several million downloads since its inception in 2016. She's also the author of Perfectly Hidden Depression, published by New Harbinger in 2019, and continues her passion to bring to light the dangers inherent in perfectionism. The couple have been supporters of T2 since its earliest days, and Margaret served as the first president of the T2 Board.

Spencer Sutterfield, an educator at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School, is a 2016 Regional Arkansas Teacher of the Year as well as the Little Rock School District Teacher of the Year. At Parkview, he specializes in theatre and speech education, team building, dramatic play, and directing actors of all ages.

Featured Chef Matthew Cooper studied at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon, then returned to his home state of Arkansas to help open-and serve as executive chef and general manager of-the popular Little Rock restaurant Cache, an upscale spot in the River Market District. In 2016, he moved to Northwest Arkansas to help open The Preacher's Son in Bentonville, which would quickly become one of the most popular dining experiences in the Northwest Arkansas area. His new restaurant, Conifer, will be entirely gluten-free.

The gala supports education programming and access to live theatre. Through its initiatives TheatreSquared distributes more than 10,000 free or reduced price tickets to students and community members annually, while the organization's education programs reach nearly 16,000 students and teachers each year. Initiatives include: the Arkansas Schools Tour, bringing live educational performances to high schools throughout the state; the T2 Professional Development Institute for Arkansas educators; classes and summer camps to introduce kids to the performing arts; and deeply discounted performances year-round at the theatre.

TheatreSquared's signature offering of bold new plays in an intimate setting has driven its growth to become the state's largest theatre, offering more than 350 performances annually in two intimate spaces and online. The playwright-led company is one of mid-America's leading laboratories for new work, having launched more than 60 new plays. Notable collaborators have included Bryna Turner, Anne García-Romero, Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D'Amour, Qui Nguyen, Mona Mansour, Tony Award nominee Lee Blessing, Amy Evans, and many others. TheatreSquared's remarkable expansion-with a twentyfold increase in audience in just the past decade-parallels the emergence of its home region in the northwest corner of Arkansas as a booming population center and destination for American art. Offering far-reaching access and education programs and an open-all-day gathering space, The Commons Bar/Café, TheatreSquared remains rooted in its founding vision, that "theatre-done well and with passion-can transform lives and communities."


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