January 2012

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Page 45 of 83

The Champion: Meghan " 44 She didn't get her start in a creative field. She doesn't even have an artsy hobby. But if there's something going on in the local arts scene, you can bet Meghan Blake- Horst is either behind it or knows about it. The owner of Absolutely Art, a neighbor- hood gallery and gift shop, and a force in the east side community, she's working to keep local art a piece of Madison. Blake-Horst "Madison has such a rich arts community. I think we're all immersed in our daily lives and almost don't recognize it, but it enriches our lives. A vibrant arts scene—with theaters, street arts, galleries—makes people want to come here and stay here. It even helps bring larger companies to our community. In Madison we're growing in our amount of display spaces— with coffee shops showing art as well as galleries—but we're lacking in the space where artists can produce. We need to find ways we can bridge prop- erty owners with artists so they have access to space to create. My goal is to make arts more accessible to the commu- nity and break down walls so people are exposed to art in many different ways. I want to help make art a part of all our lives." BRAVA Magazine The Ambassador: Janet Piraino When the Overture Center for the Arts opens its doors on Jan. 1, it will seem like business as usual on the outside. But behind the scenes, there's been a flurry of activity shaking up the way the arts center is managed and funded. In the midst of it all is Janet Piraino, the incoming vice president for advancement of the Overture Center Foundation. As the nonprofit takes control of the arts hub from the city, Piraino and her team are preparing to usher in a new era—one that will strive to turn the well-publicized financial troubles of the past around. As one of the key fundraising strategists, Piraino says she feels the pressure. With an am- " bitious goal of raising $2 million in their first fiscal year, she plans to bolster partnerships to get the job done. Relying on a background centered more around politics (most recently serving as Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's chief of staff) than sales, she says being an ambassador for Overture—which brings in Broadway shows, a plethora of free events for the com- munity and even provides a home for groups such as Madison Opera—is easy when the organization's programming speaks for itself. "I have a great product to sell," she says. "Not only is Overture a beautiful gift, but with all our community programs…I'm happy to tell anyone why their donations are really worth it." January 2012

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