This article was submitted by Julier Fellers of the Peninsula Arts Council.
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The 11th annual Diamond Awards celebration went off without a hitch as many of San Mateo County’s arts luminaries gathered to celebrate the 2012 Diamond Award honorees: Amanda Odasz, Sean Traynor, Dr. Bryan Baker, Maureen McVerry, Sonja Palmer of Music for Minors, Barbara Pierce, Eric & Lori Lochtefeld of Fox Theatre, the Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission, and Bardi Rosman Koodrin.
More than 180 guests gathered Friday night, Jan. 25 at Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos to toast the honorees, hosted by Peninsula Arts Council.
Four Redwood City residents or organizations were lauded for their contributions to the arts in San Mateo County - Warren Dale; the Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission for Government Support for the Arts; Redwood City Councilmember Barbara Pierce for Arts Volunteer; Eric and Lori Lochtefeld, owners of the Fox Theatre, for Local Business Support; and Maureen McVerry, for Arts Educator.
Returning to the stage as a guest presenter was the 2011 Diamond Award recipient for Individual Artist, Troy Paiva, a renowned night photographer and author from Redwood City.
The Honorable Warren Slocum, San Mateo County's Supervisor of District 4, gave a special greeting to the crowd and bestowed Certificates of Commendation to all honorees on behalf of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
Redwood City leadership came out in force to fete their fellow honorees of Redwood City, including: Nancy Radcliffe and Ernie Schmidt of the Redwood City Planning Commission; Chris Beth, Director of the Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department; Former Redwood City Mayors Brent Britschgi and Diane Howard; Ross Pianita of the Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission; Barbara Britschgi of Redwood City Art Center; Georgie LaBerge of the Redwood City Education Foundation; and Sean Brooks, Redwood City's new Economic Development Director.
Of the 60 generous businesses, individuals and organizations that contributed to the event’s silent auction, Redwood City boasted the highest number of contributors, including: Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, Arya Global Cuisine, Fox Theatre, Main Street Coffee Roasting Company, Mayer’s Jewelers, Mistral Restaurant and Bar, New Kapadokia, Ralph’s Vacuum and Sewing Center, Sakura Teppanyaki and Sushi, Café La Tartine, Nob Hill Catering—The Lunch Master, Dragon Productions Theatre Company, Redwood Symphony, Kelly X., Beth Mostovoy- Honeybear Prints, Alisan Andrews, and Councilmember Barbara Pierce.
Here is a snapshot of the night's Redwood City honorees:
Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission - 2012 Diamond Award Recipient for Government Support
The Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission was founded in 1971, and is chaired by Warren Dale, who has served on the Commission since 1998. The Commission consists of seven members, appointed by the City Council, who work closely with the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. Key to their efforts is $60,000 dispersed as grants to nonprofits, creating the opportunity to partner with local art organizations to support and enhance cultural life in Redwood City. Especially noteworthy are the Commission’s efforts over the past 10 years to expand the reach of arts and culture to underserved communities, and to increase the type and number of cultural and art opportunities, to better reflect the broad diversity of the Redwood City community. Some highlights include:
- Organizing an annual themed "Youth Art Contest" for K-8th grade Redwood City students. Now in its 22nd year, the contest honors the top 30 young artists at an awards ceremony and a monetary award is provided to the school with the most entries. On average, 1,800 contest entries are received each year.
- Securing sponsors and bands for the yearly "Music in the Park," a popular free concert summer series at Stafford Park.
- Partnering with and providing grants for new vibrant cultural festivals and events like Fiestas Patrias, the Lunar Festival and Shakespeare in the Park, as well as beloved community shows such as Hometown Holidays, The Nutcracker at the Fox Theater, and the Arts and Olive Festival.
- Not only do students learn to love the arts and become future art patrons, but programs draw in family members, creating a broad base of support that connects and nurtures the community and the arts. Many Redwood City organizations and events would never have gotten their start or been given a helping hand without the support of the Civic Cultural Commission.
Eric and Lori Lochtefeld, owners of the Fox Theatre - 2012 Diamond Award Recipients for Local Business Support
The Fox Theatre has been a star in Redwood City’s entertainment, music and arts scene. In 2009, as a victim of the economic crisis, the theater was forced to close its doors until two entrepreneurs saw its potential, not only as an iconic venue in the community, but also as a successful business venture. In June 2010, Eric and Lori Lochtefeld brought back energy and vitality to Redwood City's downtown as they reopened the hub of arts and entertainment on the Peninsula - the Fox Theatre and Club Fox. Eric and Lori have produced incredible showcase concerts, children's plays, author/lecture series, comedy acts, and also stepped in to rescue "Broadway by the Bay" by providing them economic and leadership resources so that they can continue to perform and delight audiences. And, true to their giving nature, Eric and Lori are also key partners with the City of Redwood City, spearheading efforts to find business sponsors both locally and nationally and giving personally to support the popular Friday Night Music on the Square concerts and other downtown Redwood City events. Their sustaining efforts have kept the events free to the public, even in difficult economic times. Eric and Lori are community builders as well as great business leaders and their efforts offer programs enjoyed by many people in this County and serve to promote San Mateo County as a tourist destination for arts, theatre, and entertainment.
Barbara Pierce - 2012 Diamond Awards Recipient for Arts Volunteer
Actions speak louder than words. Barbara Pierce has used both effectively to advocate for the arts for almost 20 years. She volunteered for Art in Action in the school when her children were small. Barbara then served on the Redwood City Civic Cultural Commission, which awakened an awareness and appreciation for public art, and started her career in Public Service. She's deeply involved with the Education Foundation, understanding that without arts and music education in schools, children lose out and communities are affected by the loss of these valuable, vibrant, and creative explorations. In that spirit, she volunteered for a fundraiser for the Peninsula Symphony, working with the Education Foundation to have youth and families attend and become exposed to the Symphony. She has served as a speaker and promoter for music programs in schools, "Music for Minors," to educate the public on the "impact of the arts." Two years ago, when faced with the loss of funding for the arts and music programs in downtown Redwood City, Barbara began a solo crusade to raise money. Donning a red vest, a balloon and stickers, she started the effort, "Begging with Buckets," asking the crowd to donate any amount to help support these wildly popular programs. She involved a variety of service and community organizations to volunteer with her each week, and in two summers her “Bucket Brigade” had raised over $37,000. As a Redwood City Council Member and Mayor she supported starting Art on the Square, the Art Walk, Phantom Gallery, Birds on Broadway and ARTS RWC. Barbara’s generous gift of her time and energy on behalf of the arts for nearly 20 years is truly inspirational.
Maureen McVerry - 2012 Diamond Award Recipient for Arts Educator
Maureen McVerry is a professional actor and director who shares her talents with the children of San Mateo County. She has directed many musicals at North Star Academy, Clifford School, Roy Cloud School, and Sequoia High School. Each of these musicals involves about 100 children and their families. Maureen is a creative dynamo with an incredible ability to teach and engage children in live theatre. Her boundless enthusiasm and ability to connect with and inspire her young actors is impressive. She believes the kids are capable of great things and they rise to those expectations time and time again. Not only do the kids benefit from their exposure to and participation in the arts, but they gain valuable life experiences - speaking and performing in public, practicing to improve their craft, self-confidence in doing something scary and challenging, how to make new friends, teamwork, and most importantly, how to laugh at themselves—skills that they will carry with them in the years to come. Maureen not only engages students, but also brings together a community. Parents, teachers, grandparents, and siblings all become part of the learning process and become better educated in the arts, for having been a part of her drama productions. The biggest gift that Maureen gives us is the show itself. To Maureen, theater is about telling a story and celebrating life. In the performance, the kids share with the audience the knowledge, insights, joy, and togetherness that the ensemble has built in one big celebration. And Maureen’s heart and soul are at the center of it all.
All ten of the new honorees will join the roster of over 100 artists and organizations who have received the prestigious Diamond Awards in the event’s 11-year history.
About the Peninsula Arts Council: PAC is a nonprofit organization that has been serving San Mateo County for 20 years. Its mission is to advance the arts in San Mateo County. The organization’s three key areas of focus include arts education, public art, and developing San Mateo County into a destination for the arts, parks and culture. Along with coordinating workshops, hosting an online artist registry and developing collaborative partnerships throughout the year, The Diamond Awards is the organization’s annual, signature, countywide event. Visit PAC online at www.peninsulaartscouncil.org.
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