Interview Conducted and Written by William Jackson, Chief Business Officer, of InFluential Magazine, Spanish InFluential, and Teen InFluential
Capacity crowd raised close to $40,000 for the Ballet Austin’s Academy Youth Scholarship Fund
On Sunday, April 30, a capacity crowd of 270 distinguished guests convened at historic Hotel Ella in bustling downtown Austin, to enjoy Ballet Austin Guild’s presentation of An Afternoon in Wonderland, its first annual Sunday Tea.
Guests enjoyed a delightful selection of finger sandwiches, sweet pastries and scones while sipping on tea and champagne, of course! As a prelude to Ballet Austin’s performance of ALICE (in wonderland), the Guild celebrated with fun decor, costumes and festivities for guests of all ages. Amazing raffle baskets were available with proceeds going to Ballet Austin’s Academy Youth Scholarship Fund. The Guild’s annual spring fundraiser makes classical ballet training available to any child with a passion and desire to learn, regardless of their family’s economic situation. Close to $40,000 was raised during Sunday Tea and the Guild couldn’t be more thrilled.
The young distinguished guests were captivated and paid rapt attention.
Of Note: 2017 marks the 42nd anniversary of Ballet Austin Guild, a non-profit organization supporting Ballet Austin’s educational and community programs benefiting over 57,000 Central Texans each year.
Before the exciting Sunday Tea commenced, I had the pleasure of chatting with Marianna Symeonides, President, Ballet Austin Guild and Cassandra King, Spring Fundraising Chair, and gained insight into what makes them InFluential women people should know, and what’s most thrilling about the Sunday Tea.
InFluential Magazine: What makes you smile with joy?
Marianna Symeonides: Giving back to those in need brings me great joy. Also, it brings me great joy when people use the simple words “Thank You”. They are such simple words, but they mean so much, to so many.
Cassandra King: What makes me smile with joy is whenever I’m with my family and friends.
InFluential: Marianna, tell us about Ballet Austin Archives.
Marianna: I moved to Austin in 2010 to pursue a master’s degree in Information Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. For my capstone project, I launched the Ballet Austin Archives. I’ve also had the privilege to work with archival records at the Austin History Center where the Ballet Austin Archives will reside in the near future.
InFluential: Cassandra, what do you consider your most important role as Spring Fundraising Chair?
Cassandra: I take great pride in having the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective that continues to relate to Ballet Austin Guild and Ballet Austin. As much as I can, I plan to be a Chair who is actively involved. With respect to the Spring Tea, my goal was to sell 150 tickets, but we sold 270! With the support of an amazing team, we more than accomplished our goal.
InFluential: Did you and / or members of your family pursue ballet as an art form?
Marianna: I’ve studied ballet for a year.
Cassandra: I studied ballet for 19 years.
InFluential: Why are the arts important to society?
Marianna: The arts must continue to be an integral part of a diverse and growing society. The arts serve as a means of connecting and engaging people. And, truly the arts have continued to play an integral role because the positive impact has been part of our society through eons of time.
InFluential: How do you remain inspired?
Cassandra: What keeps me inspired is being around happy people of all ages, colors and creeds. The arts provide opportunities for people from all backgrounds to come together toward a common goal. I’m inspired to see this happening and the awesome benefits that result.
InFluential: How do we best keep families enthused about the arts?
Cassandra: What we’re doing through Ballet Austin Guild is continuing to whet the public’s appetite about the happenings within our organization, and that of Ballet Austin. We’re taking advantage of many media outlets to shine a bright spotlight on what we have planned for this season and beyond. For example, we’ve had segments on several media outlets where we’ve emphasized that our events are family focused. Yes, even the guys are very welcomed. The arts are for everyone.
InFluential: What is the vision for An Afternoon in Wonderland?
Marianna: Ballet Austin Guild has held a spring fundraiser for 33 years, which is considered a very long time. As such, with the debut of Sunday Tea, we want to bring forth a new concept with a fresh perspective. It’s important the entire family feels welcomed to participate.
Marianna and Cassandra, your goals were accomplished! We congratulate you both for a delightful Sunday afternoon providing a wholesome family friendly opportunity to socialize and raise much needed funds in support of Ballet Austin.
Notables in attendance were Molly Beth Malcolm, Austin Community College Vice President of Community Engagement and Public Affairs, along with Ballet Austin’s Artistic Director, Stephen Mills, and Executive Director, Cookie Ruiz.
We look forward with great eagerness for Sunday Tea 2018!