Founded in 1965 by Patrick Hayes as the Washington Performing Arts Society, the revered arts presenter in a press conference announced its new name as 'Washington Performing Arts" thus dropping the word 'society' from its name. The organization brought in a marking consultant and went through disciplined process. The branding committee, chaired by Eric Collins engaged the board and staff to look at the elements of a brand change and the impact on the community.
A tenet throughout was the idea of creating experiences that are 'unique and satisfying'. “The fact that we do not own or control our own venue, we can make it happen...great art can be made in many different places.”
Following words of greeting by board president Reginald Van Lee, president Jenny Bilfield expressed her appreciation for the organization and its commitment to the arts. Bilfield recently her one year anniversary as president on April 1 and described her tenure thus far as "nothing short of gratifying." The announcement could have not come at a more perfect time, on the eve of the 75th anniversary celebration in honor of the contralto Marian Anderson hosted by Washington Performing Arts.
Anderson was a close friend of founder Patrick Hayes and he presented her in concert several times, including her farewell DC concert 50 years. Bilfield described Saturday's event as “the biggest thing that we have ever done.” The concert at the very hall that Ms. Anderson was denied the right to sing will now be the backdrop for a monumental tribute in the contralto's legacy. Performers include soprano Alyson Cambridge, bass-baritone Soloman Howard a nearly 300 voice choir conducted by Stanley J. Thurston and singer Dionne Warwick, among other performers. Legendary Jessye Norman will serve as host for the landmark event. A special work has been composed for the celebration entitled "An Ave for Marian" by noted composer and recent Choral Arts Humanitarian Award recipient Ysaye Barnwell.
Bilfield went on to express the magnitude of the celebration. “We wanted to animate the texture of her life and work in the most powerful way possible... creating a performance that could never be replicated in any other part of the world.”
The programming of the newly minted Washington Performing Arts further highlights the concept of being “an arts center without walls.” Bilfield spoke of creating experiences that are unique and satisfying. “The fact that we do not own or control our own venue, we can make it happen...great art can be made in many different places.”