Tag Archives: Foundation emphasis

WILL You Give?

In the last few weeks, we’ve explored some aspects of giving, including What’s In It For Me?, Why Do You Give?, and now on “Giving Tuesday” we come to the big ask:  Will You Give?

It’s a simple as that.

The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation was created in 2012 through a monetary contribution in memory of Earl Wentz.  This forms the corpus of the foundation’s finances.   Additional support comes through gifts and grants from private individuals (alumni, friends, supporters of the arts and arts education) and corporations.

And these gifts are not only needed and welcomed but they are put to work right away by the foundation’s Board of Directors strictly for the purposes for which the foundation has been incorporated.

And those purposes are excellent ones:

        • promoting, creating, and supporting the musical and other artistic works of the late Earl Wentz and
        • fostering and continuing the educational methods of Earl Wentz, particularly related to music and drama.

Each year, we continue to give thousands of dollars in scholarships to students in need and to provide classes and educational initiatives in the arts, particularly for students who otherwise might have little or no access to high-caliber arts training and programs.

Over 90% of the students and families we serve are currently living below the poverty line.

We continue to promote, support, and produce the music of Earl Wentz with the continued intent of archiving, maintaining, and preserving them with the highest degree of artistic integrity possible.

There are so many ways you can help:

The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation is qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.   Federal tax id #: 46-1415914.


Will you give?

Can we — and all those who benefit from our work — count on you?

If you give to The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation, please share with us at the foundation and others in the community — especially those who may be considering a gift — why.

I invite you to “weigh in” with your own comments and ideas and to share them with other readers by using the “Comments” feature above. You can click the “Comments” button at the top of the page to see what other readers have to say and to create a dialogue with them.

And . . . you can give easily by clicking this link.


© William B. Watkins and “William Weighs In”, 2014-2015. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction. This blog and all its content and components, including but not limited to photographs, videos, music, and text entries, are fully protected by all copyright laws of the United States of America and by international covenants. This work may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Why Do You Give?

Last month’s post, What’s In It For Me?, proved controversial and evoked comments and discussion (which is part of what we want to do!) around selfishness / self-centeredness, especially when it comes to charity.

I participated in an event the other day where we talked about “Thanksliving”. Yep, that’s not a typo. Thanksliving. So in this week in which we celebrate one of the more popular American holidays (usually by eating, drinking, watching parades and sports, and shopping), let’s take a more positive approach and look at why  people (including you and me) do give.

Sometimes it really is out of a sense of gratitude; sometimes it’s from a sense of guilt; sometimes it’s because our hearts have been stirred by something; sometimes it’s because we want something in return (even if it’s only a tax-deduction); and sometimes it’s because we just feel it’s the right thing to do.

From the standpoint of the receiver of the gift — be that a charity or individual — maybe the motivation of the giver isn’t such a big thing. After all, in the case of a charity, if the money gets received that allows for the programs to be accomplished, does it really matter why someone or some business gave?

Well, maybe it does. It’s always good to know that those who support our foundation‘s work are on board with our mission. It also helps us who are doing the work to know that we’re not just on the other side of the cynical “What’s in it for me?” coin.

Here are just a few of my favorite reasons that people have shared about why they support our work:

      • “I give . . . because I cannot imagine this world without Earl, but if he can’t be here, at least his extraordinary genius will live on through the music he created. And perhaps — riding on the notes of his brilliant compositions — his huge heart, sustaining wisdom, and unstoppable humor will continue to inspire, comfort and delight us for years to come.  I miss him beyond words, but am blessed to be able to hear his music time and time again. That is why . . . . “

      • “I give because Earl Wentz gave.  He gave laughter not just to countless audiences but to everyone he met. He gave music to the world. He gave encouragement to his hundreds of students. And he gave love in everything he did.   That’s why I give . . . . “

      • “I had the joy and honor of working with Earl as my teacher and he taught me so much about music and life through his passion for both.  I miss him, but his music will live on as a reminder of his beautiful spirit.  I give . . . so others can experience his music and as a tribute to his life.

      • “There are so many reasons . . . !  Continuing Earl’s work is actually a gift to the world. You know how everyone gets all excited when someone finds an unpublished piece of music from Berlin or Gershwin? Well, Earl’s legacy is of the same magnitude –- but it needs to be heard to be appreciated and loved, which is why funding the preservation and publication of these buried treasures is so important.”

      • Earl was a giver . . . .  A lot of my confidence to appear on stage came from Earl.  He believed in me, in my abilities and my aspirations.  He was always there to give you a boost when you needed it . . . .”


So . . . in this season of thanks and giving . . .

Why do you give?

Why not?

If you give to The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation, specifically, please share with us at the foundation and others in the community — especially those who may be considering a gift — why.

I invite you to “weigh in” with your own comments and ideas and to share them with other readers by using the “Comments” feature above. You can click the “Comments” button at the top of the page to see what other readers have to say and to create a dialogue with them.

And . . . you can give easily by clicking this link.


© William B. Watkins and “William Weighs In”, 2014-2015. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction. This blog and all its content and components, including but not limited to photographs, videos, music, and text entries, are fully protected by all copyright laws of the United States of America and by international covenants. This work may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

So, I’ve been back in Manhattan and having a ball, seeing old friends, catching a really wonderful show (“The Visit” — more on that one in another post), having a couple of business meetings, seeing some great art, doing research, taking a class or two, and buying books to use in our foundation’s classes.  Oh, for me, this is heavenly stuff!

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Ice Cream Faces

I ran into a former student this morning at my community garden. She was there for a school-related program; I was just there to water and weed and hope a little as I surveyed the puny seedlings just beginning to emerge from the little patch I cultivate.

She was wandering around the garden in a state of apparent bliss, eating from a styrofoam cup.  I called her by name and said hello.  She smiled and said hello back to me.

“Do you have ice cream in that cup?” I asked her.

“Mmmm-hmmmm!” she affirmed, tilting the cup so I could see.

“Do you know how I knew that?” I asked.

She scraped her plastic spoon against the inside of her cup, getting every last bite.   “How?”

“You had on an ‘I’ve got ice cream’  face .  .  . ” I explained.

She grinned even more broadly than she had been doing.

” .  .  .  Like you were just going to bust out giggling at any second!”  I continued.

She did.   Giggle.

Whenever I wonder why I spend so much time teaching, I think of faces like that.   Beaming, blissful faces.  Faces like that of one student who, earnestly, seriously, and with the concentration of a brain surgeon, played two solo measures of “Turkey in the Straw” on the violin in one of our public performances and, looking to me for approval, brightened and beamed as I gave her the “thumbs up” and the audience applauded.

Faces like the ones I witnessed this week when I told some new students that yes, they had been accepted into our Summer Musical Theatre Workshop.   Faces of students who just plain were too timid to speak, but who screwed up their courage, delivered a line, realized that they had not died, and, in fact, that the audience was enjoying themselves. Faces of parents watching their children doing something new.

I’m going to have some ice cream now and compare my face to theirs.   And then hone our curriculum a wee bit more.

(Please share your comments and thoughts by using the “Comments” feature below.)


© William B. Watkins and “William Weighs In”, 2014-2015. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction. This blog and all its content and components, including but not limited to photographs, videos, music, and text entries, are fully protected by all copyright laws of the United States of America and by international covenants. This work may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Wild Beasts at Work

“The artist should call forth all his energy, his sincerity, and his greatest possible modesty in order to push aside during his work the old clichés that come so ready to his hand and can suffocate the small flower that itself never turns out as one expected.”

— Henri Matisse1


Isn’t it wonderful how things sometimes “line up”?   I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the mission and activities of The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation, how to explain succinctly our educational approaches, and what our next steps will be.   Right now, of course, our Summer Musical Theatre Workshop looms large on the horizon.   But then there are the other initiatives on the schedule, too, including performances of some of Earl Wentz’s musical works.

How to do it all?   How to gain additional support beyond what the foundation can contribute from its own resources?   How to keep growing and not just repeating what we already know and have done?   How to keep moving towards fulfilling our goals?

I get restless as I ponder and so I roam.

And it works.  For me.

In the last week, I’ve visited the fabulous new Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas, seen architect Fay Jones’s stirring masterpiece Thorncrown Chapel, hiked over rushing river waters via marvels of engineering, and just today attended an exhibition of the art books of Henri Matisse at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

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And Now . . . Keep Building The Approach

It’s so great to hear from all of you who have been following the blog and especially those of you who are trying the exercises in our last several posts (click here, and here to review those exercises or to do them now if you haven’t done so).

I know that this is new and strange territory for some of you and I admire your courage in challenging yourselves to try something different, to speak up when you don’t understand, and to just “go with it” and see where it takes you. Please keep doing all that and also submitting your comments on each post page or speaking to me “offline” or both!

If you do use the “comments” feature, it helps us all to see what others are grappling with or how they are approaching things. It’s amazing how alike we can be and really fun to explore our differences as well. I know that I learn a lot from seeing the various approaches that people take and where their imaginations lead. Your creativity helps me to be more creative and I hope you will find the same experience in sharing with others here.

I’ve stressed throughout these introductory exercises that there’s no “right” or “wrong” answers. The point is really to expand horizons. To let your imagination develop, partly through a “metaphorical” approach; that is, through using one creative or artistic medium to talk about another. In these cases, we’ve used light and shadow, color and tone, depth and angle, “inclusion” and “exclusion” — all found in photographs — to help us explore what stories interest us, how we might relate these stories as writers or directors, and why.

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Further Towards A Multi-Disciplinary Approach

The photograph above, “Follow Me”, © 2015 by William B. Watkins, can be viewed in a larger format in the Image Gallery. On that page, just double-click on the image to view it in a large, slideshow mode.

As you know if you read the last blog entry, I waited to get a little more response from blog readers about the post “Towards a Multi-Disciplinary Approach” and the exercises in it before continuing on the subject.

While not completely unexpected, I have to admit that I was surprised at exactly how much confusion the exercises stirred up.

When I asked some specific people for feedback or about whether or not they had done the two short exercises in the post, the prevailing answers I got were along the lines of “I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do.” I asked if the directions were unclear, concerned that I had gone over people’s heads somehow. No, I was assured, they weren’t.

Hmmmmm . . . . I wondered what the problem was then. “I didn’t know what this was for,” someone said. “I wasn’t used to doing things that way,” said another. “I didn’t think I was smart enough,” a very bright person told me.

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Further Towards A Multi-Disciplinary Approach (New Exercises)

The photograph above, “To the Mill”, © 2015 by William B. Watkins, can be viewed in a larger format in the Image Gallery. On that page, just double-click on the image to view it in a large, slideshow mode.

Welome back!

I know that those first couple of exercises from our post “Towards a Multi-Disciplinary Approach” may have been challenging in many different ways. If you haven’t read that post or done the first two exercises, you really should take a step back and have a go at them before proceeding. You might also want to read some explanatory information from “Further Towards A Multi-Disciplinary Approach”.

Remember, these exercises are for you. There’s not a right or wrong answer. It’s all based on your choices and designed to help you get in touch with your instincts about what appeals to you the most and then to challenge yourself to explore — and articulate — why.

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Towards a Multi-Disciplinary Approach

One of the educational emphases of The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation is “expanding the vision and abilities of young artists by encouraging them to learn about and experience a cross-section of artistic activities in disciplines outside their primary areas of interest”.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach helps us see and understand the world in more profound ways and, as artists, to make richer and more interesting choices in our expressive work.

Stories can be expressed artistically in many different ways, through many different disciplines. Describing the process, particularly as it relates to acting and directing, often is best done metaphorically. These metaphors can be gleaned from the various modes of expression of similar ideas by analyzing construction, composition, color, tone, etc.

To get you started….

Following are two exercises — taken from my forthcoming book Expansion: Toward a Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Creativity and Expression — that show how studying and experimenting with photography can be used in the dramatic arts. Exercise #1 introduces you to the approach. Exercise #2 applies it to the realm of the playwright or author.

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Of Flower Girls and Ladies — Part II


Photo credit: William Watkins, 2014

In our post on November 22, 2014, “Of Flower Girls and Ladies — Part I”, we delved into a quote from George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”, spoken by the heroine, Eliza Doolittle:

“. . . the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.”

We explored how this central theme played out in the characters’ behavior throughout the play (as well as in its musicalization, “My Fair Lady”) and its implications, once Eliza realizes the truth of it, particularly for her independence and for her future.

We left by asking how all of that relates to the work of The Earl Wentz and William Watkins Foundation. It’s there that we pick up today.

If you haven’t read Part I, you may want to do that by clicking on this link before reading on.

________________________________________________________________________

Despite a marvelously nuanced performance by Rex Harrison in both the stage and film versions of My Fair Lady, where we see the heart of Henry Higgins start to melt before our eyes and thereby transform the exterior blustering beast as Higgins realizes that much to his consternation, he has “grown accustomed to” Eliza’s face, this Higgins is not that of Pygmalion either. Higgins arrogantly proclaims in the musical that he has made a woman of Eliza, but it is she who has actually made a grown man of him. It’s utterly charming here and delicious fodder for those with romantic appetites but it isn’t totally what the original author, George Bernard Shaw, intended.

In Pygmalion, Higgins doesn’t really understand what Eliza is so upset about on the morning after her triumph. He certainly can’t understand why, in exasperation, she has thrown his slippers in his face: “She behaved in the most outrageous way. I never gave her the slightest provocation.” It is for his mother, Mrs. Higgins, to begin the explanation: “She worked very hard for you, Henry! . . . . it seems that when the great day of trial came, and she did this wonderful thing for you without making a single mistake, you two sat there and never said a word to her, but talked together of how glad you were that it was all over . . . . and how you had been bored with the whole thing.” She continues, telling him what he really deserved: “And then you were surprised because she threw your slippers at you! I should have thrown the fire-irons at you.”

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