Business Supports the Arts Breakfast on Thursday to Honor Steve Zemo & Allison Stockel

Editor's note: Making Ridgefield PROUD! HamletHub congratulates Steve Zemo who will receive this year's Arts in the Community Award and Allison Stockel who Is the recipient of the Heart of the Arts Award at The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut's "Business Supports the Arts" awards breakfast on October 15.


The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut's "Business Supports the Arts" awards breakfast, its premiere fundraising event, celebrates its 9th year of recognizing outstanding support of the arts by business leaders and extraordinary volunteers.

The awards breakfast takes place on Thursday, October 15th, 7:30am to 9:00am, at Matrix Corporate Center, 39 Old Ridgebury Road in Danbury. Highly anticipated each year, "Business Supports the Arts" serves to increase visibility for arts and culture in Western Connecticut while gathering together many prominent leaders in our regional arts and business communities.

This year's honorees, nominated by their peers, are the Savings Bank of Danbury (BSA Award), Steve Zemo (Arts in the Community Award) and Allison Stockel (Heart of the Arts Award). Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts, the nation's advocacy organization for the arts, is slated as keynote speaker.

The fundraiser brings in substantial support of the Cultural Alliance's

mission: To market the region; to develop livable communities; and to provide opportunities and resources to the creative community it serves. As a Designated Regional Service Organization, the Cultural Alliance assists the Connecticut Office of the Arts to develop and sustain industry and cross sector relationships and provides support for specific Connecticut Office of the Arts programs and services.

Union Savings Bank recently contributed $2,500 to kick off this fundraising effort. “We are honored to partner with the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut as the title sponsor of the 'Business Supports the Arts' awards breakfast in the fall”, says Cindy Merkle, President & CEO for Union Savings Bank. “We truly believe the organization is a tremendous resource for the arts and culture in our surrounding communities.”

Tickets to "Business Supports the Arts" may be purchased by going to http://bit.ly/1KIG7Yt

*SAVINGS BANK OF DANBURY*

The recipient of the top honor of the day, The BSA Award, the Savings Bank of Danbury has been focused on supporting the communities it serves from opening the Bank's doors more than 165 years ago. Since 2004, the Savings Bank of Danbury Foundation has donated more than $1,250,000 in grants to

347 agencies to support local non-profit organizations in the areas of arts and culture, community and economic development, education, health and human services, and housing. In 2014, more contributions were awarded than in any previous year with more than $310,000 donated. Savings Bank of Danbury employees have also given their time, logging over 11,000 volunteer hours in 2014.

*STEVE ZEMO*

The Arts in the Community awardee, Steve Zemo, believes in his community, the town of Ridgefield. A developer and property owner, he served for several years on the Board of Selectmen, and his philanthropic side shows no bounds. In 2005, Steve founded The Taylor-Zemo Foundation, a philanthropic organization providing financial assistance for housing, job training and education for foster youth in transition. With a fervent desire to support Ridgefield as a destination town, Steve's quick to point out such vibrant multicultural offerings as The Aldrich Museum, The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, the Theatre Barn, and The Ridgefield Playhouse, and has also supported such youth-focused efforts as Ridgefield Parks and Recreation and Productions for Young People.

*ALLISON STOCKEL*

Allison Stockel, Heart of the Arts honoree, became the Executive Director of The Ridgefield Playhouse with one stipulation, that she would donate her salary back to the organization. That was 10 years ago, and ever since she continues to develop and nurture what is arguably the top performing arts destination in western Connecticut. Though her hours at the Playhouse are long, she devotes a great deal of her (spare) time to charity, not only as advocate but also as a hands-on volunteer, whether delivering meals to seniors or running a marathon. Allison has helped to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars for local charities, and in response, the Board of Directors of The Ridgefield Playhouse established The Allison Stockel Fund to honor her unswerving commitment to bringing the "Best of Show(s)" to Ridgefield.

*RANDY COHEN*

Randy Cohen, keynote speaker, stands out as one of the most noted experts in the field of arts funding, research, policy, and using the arts to address community development issues. Randy led the development of the National Arts Policy Roundtable, an annual convening of leaders who focus on the advancement of American culture, launched in 2006 in partnership with Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute. In the late 1990’s, Randy collaborated with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to create "Coming Up Taller", the White House report on arts programs for youth-at-risk, and the U.S. Department of Justice to produce the YouthARTS Project, the first national study to statistically document the impact of arts programs on at-risk youth. Randy has been a policy specialist for the National Endowment for the Arts, founded the San Diego Theatre for Young Audiences, and sits on the Board of the League of Historic American Theaters.

The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, with offices at 287 Main Street, Danbury, CT, is a leader in supporting a vibrant arts and culture community in Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield Counties.

The Cultural Alliance promotes and advocates for arts, history, and culture as a primary driver of the economy and as an enriching influence for communities and people. The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, a 501c-3, is the largest and only regional service organization working to ensure better access to arts and culture for all residents and visitors in Greater Danbury. It is supported by public and private funding, corporate sponsors, and by its 185 members including more than 55 arts, history, and cultural organizations. phone: (203) 798 0760 www.artswesternct.org