A few times in a generation, a gesture is made to a community that is extraordinary not only for the dramatic impact it will have on the future of that community but for what it affirms about the spirit driving the community. It may be a populist gesture made by many, such as the one made by the legions of Austinites who turned out at City Council chambers in 1990 to protest the Barton Creek PUD, an act that made a powerful statement about Austin's love for its natural treasures and its willingness to speak out on their behalf. It may be a philanthropic act by one or two persons, a gift of such outstanding generosity that it virtually redefines the term. Austin was witness to the latter last week when ARTS Center Stage
announced that Teresa Lozano
and Joe R. Long
were contributing $20 million toward the renovation of Palmer Auditorium
into a performing arts center. Obviously, the size of the gift was noteworthy: the largest charitable donation by an individual in the city's history; among the three largest gifts to the arts by an individual in the state of Texas; a gift that covers approximately 40% of the cost of the Palmer renovation just by itself. But the magnitude of the donation was only part of the story. What made this one of the rare gestures that touches Austin's soul was the couple who made it. Joe and Teresa Long have called this city home for half a century. Decades before the Silicon Rush, before the Sunbelt Migrations, the Longs were here, building a life, building a business, taking an active role in the growth of the community. They have stayed involved ever since, devoting much of their efforts to Austin's cultural life, helping found organizations such as Austin Lyric Opera
and serving on many boards, like the Umlauf Sculpture Garden
and the Austin Symphony
(for which Joe is current board president). They've been witness to and instrumental in the birth and shaping of organizations that today are considered pillars of our cultural scene. They've given so much already, yet they see themselves as the ones to whom much has been given, and they make this donation, this staggering gift which will play such a large role in providing generations of Austinites with a cultural home in the heart of the city, as a way of giving something back to the city. That is magnanimous -- and in a way that says something about the spirit of Austin. This is a place to which people feel a devotion, and it inspires them to give of themselves in extraordinary ways. The Longs' gift reaffirms that in a special way, and the fact that the renovated auditorium will be called the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts should make all Austinites proud.
Critics' Table Housekeeping
Last week's list of nominations for the 1999 Austin Theatre Critics' Table Awards had a few inaccuracies which we'd like to clear up. Under Dance, the nomination for Fugue State should have been for Kate Warren as choreographer/producer; Kathy Dunn Hamrick performed the dance. Under Dancer, the nomination for Gus Giordano was intended for his troupe, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, that performed at the Austin Festival of Dance. Under Gallery Exhibition, the nomination for Yard Dog Gallery should have read Reginald Mitchell, not James Mitchell. We regret these errors. The Critics' Table's awards will be presented in an informal ceremony at Top of the Marc, Monday, June 14, 6:30pm.