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Out & About in Cleveland

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Leadership Breakfast at The Allen Theatre

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On Thursday, April 13th, our first event was a Community Leadership Breakfast at the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square organized by the Cleveland Play House (with the support of "Ernst & Young") whose mission is "to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences across Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards."

On this day the keynote speaker was Mr. Jim Turley, retired global Chairman and CEO of "Ernst & Young" and current Chairman of "Theatre Forward" described on our invitation as "a nonprofit advocacy group for professional theatres across the U.S." With some occasional input from Mr. Bruce E. Whitacre, Executive Director of "Theatre Forward", Mr. Turley talked about the value of arts education to young people (and even the not-so-young) and the businesses that might employ them someday. Some of the statistics that he cited were that 92% of business executives say that many of their new and/or prospective employees lack the life/personal skills that they would like them to have while 90% of these executives had a "deep arts experience" while they were growing up that really had a positive impact on their lives. 

We asked Mr. Turley if the thinking that we grew up with about sports and sports only being the necessary ingredient to mold a successful young person was on the way out and Mr. Turley replied that this perception was still widely held but not as adamantly as it once was; in short, it is progressively on the way out.  He, himself, was a "jock" in high school but he had friends who coaxed him into helping out with his school's theatrical productions and thus benefitted from doing both although he was the first to admit that not every kid was/is inclined to excel at both sports and theatre so both are deserving of equal weight.

Mr. Turley emphasized that the days of a homogenous straight, white male work force are no longer and truly successful companies/executives have to be able to nurture a variety of diverse talents in order to be successful. Along these lines, he believed that the arts can provide training or life lessons in the areas of self-discipline, non-verbal communication, creativity, and the fostering of a strong work ethic.

About 120 people RSVP'd for this event from an assortment of community organizations so we got to visit with such people as Mr. Marc J. Ryan, Scout Executive from "Boy Scouts of America" who agreed with us that the Scouts could be a fine way for a young immigrant to learn about our culture while making new friends; Ms. Janet L. Kramer, a member of the Cleveland Play House Board of Directors, who knows Ms. Margaret W. Wong through the latter's support of the "National Sclerosis Society"; and RADM June Ryan, Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, who kidded that her warm, sunny presence has resulted in two relatively mild winters in a row and therefore not much ice for the Coast Guard to break-up in Lake Erie.

After the program, we chatted with Mr. Whitacre from "Theatre Forward" who told us of an arts program that provides young Hispanic people the opportunity to express their frustrations and explore the trauma brought about by our current immigration policies; he promised to send us information about it.

As we were leaving to go to our car, we passed a group of high schoolers who were bused to Cleveland from a surrounding area to watch a production of "Hamlet" at the Hanna Theatre; after our early morning event, nothing could have been more appropriate.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC