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December 15, 1989 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ARTS



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A-Az.

The Numbers

Artwork from Newsday by Bernie Cootner. Copyright 0 1989, Newsday. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

VICKI BELYEU DIAZ

Special to The Jewish News

ewish participation on
local cultural boards,
such as the Founders
Society of the Detroit In-
stitute of Arts, the recently
formed Detroit Symphony Or-
chestra Hall board of direc-
tors, and the Michigan Coun-
cil for the Arts, is probably
more intense than ever.
Detroit's Jewish commu-
nity has been highly suppor-
tive of the arts for decades,
and today, in an area where
Jews are estimated to corn-
prise around 3-4 percent of
the population, approximate-
ly 15 percent of the members
of the Founders Society (8 of
45), the DSOH board (9 of 59)
and the MCA (2 of 14) are
Jewish. But Jewish support is
not just impressive, numbers-
wise. It is also reflected in a
number of critical leadership
positions Jewish participants
occupy.
Jewish leaders are follow-
ing in the footsteps of such
trailblazing arts enthusiasts
as Lydia Winston Malbin,
Max Fisher and Rabbi Leo
Franklin.
Leon Cohan, senior vice
president of Detroit Edison,
has been a member of the
Michigan Council for the Arts
for five years and was named
by Gov. James Blanchard to
head that group a
year-and-half-ago.
"I've always been highly in-
volved in the art world, and
I've always had a passion for
music, literature, poetry,
dance — all the arts," he says.
"Also, I was an advisory

j

Jewish participation on the
boards of local cultural
institutions has grown in
recent years.

member to the Detroit Arts
Commission for several years
before becoming a full
member, and I'm a member of
the DSOH board of trustees."
The governor is a friend of
Cohan's and that may have
played a part in the appoint-
ment. "I was someone he
knew," Cohan says.

At the top of Cohan's agen-
da is a vigorous return to arts
education in Michigan public
schools.
Serving alongside Cohan as
vice-chairman of the
15-member MCA is
Madeleine Berman, who also
works with the DSOH board
and other area arts groups.

"I've been working in the
arts for years," says Berman,
who was originally appointed
by Gov. William Milliken in
1981, and re-appointed by
Blanchard. "My husband and
I have been working to serve

the community most of our
lives, actually.
"I think Jewish people
come to such service natural-
ly. Serving in the community
is stressed in the home, and so
we don't need much convinc-
ing to support cultural
institutions.
"Over the years, of course,
the general level of affluence
has increased in our com-
munity. People want to enrich
the community and somehow
give back to it, and one way
of doing that is to work to sus-
tain these cultural institu-
tions."
Berman, in addition to her
duties with the MCA and the
DSOH board, is a member of
the Concerned Citizens for
the Arts in Michigan and
serves on the American
Council for the Arts.
She spends at least 14-15
hours a week working as a
"professional volunteer."

Margaret
"Peggy"
Winkelman,
long-time
member of the DIA Founders
Society and the Orchestra
Hall board, contends that
Jewish membership on area
cultural boards has inten-
sified because Jews are now
being sought out by these
groups. The fund-raising ex-
pertise of the Jewish com-
munity was recognized by the
community in general, she
says. The traditional financial
generosity of local Jews also
prompted board members to
actively seek out Jewish
participation.
Winkelman became a
member of the Founders
Society in 1963, her name
placed in nomination by
Lawrence Fleischman, a
trustee at the time and presi-
dent of the Detroit Arts
Commission.
According to Jean Shapiro,
a member of the Orchestra

Hall board for many years
and now active on the DSOH,
Orchestra Hall board
members were recruited via a
process which began when
they were thought to be
beneficial to the institution.
The new DSOH board of
directors was put together
essentially by combining the
executive boards of the DSO
and Orchestra Hall, and add-
ing about 15 "at-large" par-
ticipants, says Shapiro. As a
result of the re-structuring,
Jewish representation is now
about 15 percent. On the
former, separate Orchestra
Hall and Detroit Symphony
boards, representation was
around 8 percent (13
members on the 170-member
Orchestra Hall board, and 15
on the Detroit Symphony
board, with 180 members).
Jack Robinson, chairman of
Perry Drug Stores and a
member of the executive com-
mittee of the DSO for several
years before becoming part of
the DSOH Board of Directors,
believes most who end up on
executive boards display a
high degree of interest, an
ability to follow through, and
"a degree of innovativeness."
"At the start, when they're
looking for new members,
(these groups) take you out for
a friendly lunch and tell you
something like, 'You have an
interest in music. We just
need the use of your name.'
They say they don't need your
money or your time.
"That's a laugh, of course,"
says Robinson. "Before long,
they've got all three — your
name, your money and your
time.
"People ask, and you do

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

69

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