Butz Family urges firms to support arts groups
The Butz family, which has donated $2 million to arts organizations during the past 10 years, called on other area businesses to follow their lead as they accepted the Arts Ovation Legacy Award from Allentown Arts Commission.
The Commission’s 30th anniversary Ovation Award ceremony in Allentown’s center city Radisson Hotel ballroom Sept. 27 also honored six other recipients who have had a major impact on Allentown’s arts community.
Presenting the Legacy Award, the Arts Commission’s Sharon Glassman quoted the late Rev. Gerard Schubert, founder of DeSales University’s theater program and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, by saying the Butz family was “generous of spirit, kind of heart and just good people.”
“The arts mean a great deal to us,” said Greg Butz, as he accepted the award for the family. “We need arts to have a vibrant community.”
Greg Butz is the chief executive officer of Allentown construction management firm Alvin H. Butz company, which celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2019, and is one of the largest construction management firms headquartered in Pennsylvania.
Lee Butz is a photographer who takes photos of productions at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, for which the Butz firm also provides sponsorship.
Lee and his son Greg have served on boards of arts organizations. Greg is co-chair of the Civic Theatre of Allentown’s “The Next Act” Capital Campaign.
Eric Butz and his wife, Deborah Roberson, are supporters of the Allentown School Foundation, as well as architects whose work can be seen at the Allentown Art Museum, Miller Symphony Hall, Baum School of Art and Civic Theatre.
“We try to give back as much as we can,” Greg Butz said. “We want to set an example of what more people in the business community should do.“
Other Arts Ovation honorees were: Outstanding Achievement in Performing Arts: Allentown’s Blues, Brews & BBQ festival; Outstanding Achievement in Literary Arts: LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center; Outstanding Achievement in Visual Arts: painter, photographer and production designer Peter Gourniak; Outstanding Achievement in Arts Education: JoAnn Wilchek Basist; Outstanding Service to the Arts: Jessica Bien, general manager, Muhlenberg College’s Theatre and Dance Department, and Outstanding Emerging Artists: The Alternative Gallery.
The free Blues, Brews & BBQ has grown into a festival that attracts more than 25,000 visitors to center city Allentown since its inception 11 years ago. The festival has grown in size to cover more than six blocks.
Miriam Huertas of The Hamilton District Main Street Program that took over planning of the festival five years ago, accepted the award.
“Everyone who knows me knows I am a passionate long-term Allentonian,” she said. “I am honored and humbled.”
She also recognized the 150 volunteers who help run the festival, saying, “Together we are stronger.”
The LGBT Library at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, 522 W. Maple St., Allentown, is a professionally-staffed library with more than 2,200 books, and DVDs celebrating LGBT literature, history, community and culture. Through a partnership with the Digital Humanities Initiative at Lehigh University, the library catalog is available online.
Accepting the award were Kathleen Kapila and Valerie Wesser, who said, “This is truly a community library. If it’s true knowledge is power then this is a very powerful place.”
Gourniak, called “a true Allentown Renaissance man” by the commission, is a photographer, multimedia painter, event planner, chef, videographer, corporate production designer, talent scout and guitar player.
His newest project is Artica Content Studios, a production house in Allentown that will create, develop, and acquire entertaining and educational content for the web, TV and film.