The third annual M. Edgar Rosenblum Awards Gala will be given on November 13 to benefit the Irondale Ensemble Project at the Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, in the BAM Cultural District of Fort Greene. Awards will be presented to Janis Russell, Director of the Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble and Jack Rainey, Senior Vice President of Government and Community Banking at TD Bank. The 2012 program will include performances by the Irondale Ensemble, the highly acclaimed Alexandra Beller Dances, Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble with Janis Russell and a few surprise guests.
M. Edgar Rosenblum (1932-2010), enjoyed a remarkable career in arts management that shaped and gave power to regional theatre in the United States. His work continues to be remembered on the stages of almost every regional and non-profit theater in the US. Irondale has honored his rich legacy through the creation of the M. Edgar Rosenblum Awards which are given out annually to individuals or public partners at the Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, in the BAM Cultural District of Fort Greene. Arvin Brown, his long-time artistic partner at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven CT., called Edgar "one of the most influential executive directors in the country". Tickets to the benefit are $150-$200. For information call: 718 488-9233.
The Irondale Ensemble Project, established 29 years ago, is a permanent ensemble known for its innovative theatrical productions as well a ground-breaking education programs with teachers and students in public schools, incarcerated men and women, and adolescents at risk of AIDS/HIV. The founders of Irondale, Jim Niesen, Barbara Mackenzie-Wood and Terry Greiss first met when they were hired as young actors at Long Wharf in 1977. According to Artistic Director, Jim Niesen, "Working at Long Wharf in a tremendously supportive creative environment, gave us the model of how we wanted to keep working throughout our careers. It also brought the three of us together in what clearly became, for all of us, our most important professional and personal relationship". Terry Greiss, Irondale's Executive Director said, "Jim and I have been working as a team for 29 years. Although we didn't set out to model ourselves after Arvin (Brown) and Edgar, it was an important and successful example of partnership that we were exposed to early in our careers". Barbara Mackenzie-Wood, now Head of the Acting /Music Theatre Program at Carnegie Mellon University said, "Edgar was a mentor for us all. When we started Irondale, he was always willing to give us advice or talk to our board. I think he was proud of what we created and we were always quick to acknowledge our roots”
About the Honorees
Long Term Fort Greene Resident Janis Russell is the director of the multi-racial, integrated Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble whose base is historical Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. Janis has lived in five states, performing and recording with several groups. In 1979 Janis moved to New York with her husband, bassist Mike Weatherly, and continued to create music performing in various jazz clubs. Her voice has been called “powerful and touching” by politician Hilary Clinton and the Ensemble has performed for numerous award shows and for such dignitaries as Nelson Mandela and former President Bill Clinton. Janis’ fluency in Italian allowed her to address the audience on behalf of the Ensemble when they performed for the 20th anniversary celebration for Pope John Paul II. Under Janis’ direction the Ensemble was
featured in “Body of War” the award winning documentary by Phil Donohue and Ellen Spiro, in the TV series Toni On! New York and in the Odyssey Network’s documentary series, Sewing Seeds.
Besides her musical life, Janis is an Assistant Vice President at the Dreyfus Corporation, a subsidiary of The Bank Of New York Mellon Corporation.
Jack Rainey (accepting for TD Bank)
Jack W. Rainey is Senior Vice President of Government and Community Banking at TD Bank, overseeing community and government relations activities in NYC. He is currently the Board Chair of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, and serves on the steering committee of the Association for a Better New York (ABNY).