Angelina Arts Alliance News Release – January 23, 2015

Contact: Tracy Pinkerton, Executive Director – 936-633-5234

A Nutty December

I think the days of the arts in an ivory tower are behind us; the very best arts organizations are finding ways to connect communities with artists. So, if you didn’t attend Mejia Ballet International’s The Nutcracker at the Temple Theater last weekend, you missed something very special. It was the perfect melding of arts and community. Yes, with 79 local kids involved it was nutty—but wonderfully nutty. With a professional cast of 37 and local cast of 79, it was at times chaotic, exhausting, and not without its challenges. But it was also exhilarating, inspirational, and for some young people, life-changing. If you haven’t viewed the photos taken by Andy Adams yet, they are located on the Lufkin News website—the faces and expressions captured on film tell the story. The kids were mesmerized by the professional ballerinas as they took the stage together—and they fit into the professional cast like a hand in a glove. We are so proud of you.

Not only were the kids inspired, but the entire cast was gracious enough to let us invite an audience to the dress rehearsal on Saturday free of charge. By the request of Buddy Temple, who wanted as many kids to see The Nutcracker as possible, the Arts Alliance staff and board of directors began inviting non-profit groups, service organizations, and those in the community who would never get the chance to see a professional ballet, in a beautiful theater setting, to enjoy The Nutcracker for the first time. An estimated 500 people filled the Temple Theater seats that day, with the anticipation and excitement on their faces that only a live event can bring. That, for me, is what the arts and community partnership is all about.

We are blessed to live in such a generous community. A professional ballet is costly—so I would like to thank all the businesses who sponsored this event; Season Sponsors First Bank & Trust East Texas, Georgia-Pacific and Angelina College. Show Sponsors CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial, Urgent Doc and The Heart Institute of East Texas. Show Producers, Merrill Lynch of Lufkin, Lufkin Plastic Surgery, Ken Smith & Casper Associates, CPA’s and Axley & Rode LLP, and Media Partner KSWP/KAVX. Lastly, the faithful individuals who have all been long-time supporters of the arts; Buddy & Ellen Temple, David. H. Dolben & Charlie Mae Mahan, Mary & Tom Duncan and Linda Ellis. Without businesses and individuals like these, we would not have the opportunities to experience professional live theater, dance or music on such a grand scale. We are grateful for all the generous folks who support the arts in this community. A special thanks to Susan Koon of Susan’s Studio of Dance and Katie Parr of Gobel School of Dance, for working diligently with our kids and teaching them choreography for months. And thanks to the parents who shared their children with us. We all made it happen together–and it was magical.