Volunteer Beth Flaherty, the 2013 Hanns Kretzchmar Award For Excellence in the Arts winner, is shown at the Trout Museum of Art in Appleton. / Wm. Glasheen/Post-Crescent Media
Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in the Arts
The Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in the Arts recognizes an individual or organization for leadership and volunteer service in local arts organizations and activities; for long-standing commitment to the local arts community; and for noteworthy personal involvement in developing and promoting arts within the community. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans sponsors the award.
About this series
Each day through Monday, Post-Crescent Media is highlighting the good deeds of Fox Valley volunteers in advance of the 16th annual Celebrating Our Volunteers event, which takes place Tuesday at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton. It is sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region Inc. and Post-Crescent Media. Award winners were selected from among nominees submitted by readers.
Behind the scenes of several prominent Fox Valley arts nonprofit organizations is the professional and passionate leadership of Appleton volunteer Beth Flaherty.
Flaherty, 52, is president of the board of directors of the Fox Valley Symphony and leads its education committee. She serves on the Trout Museum of Art’s advisory board and on the directors’ board of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, and heads up the PAC’s advocacy committee.
She has helped with fundraising projects and on hiring committees at the Lawrence Academy of Music. She recently joined the White Heron Chorale’s advisory board.
“We need to put ourselves out there where people can most benefit,” Flaherty said. “The community is going to lose out if we don’t take those risks, and we personally lose out if we don’t take those risks. I am very energized by the possibility of change for the better.”
Flaherty will receive the Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in the Arts during this year’s Celebrating Our Volunteers event Tuesday at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton. Post-Crescent Media spoke with Flaherty about her volunteer work. What follows is an edited transcript.
How did you get involved in volunteering?
I’m a lawyer by training. My specialty and my love was public interest law. I worked for legal services for the poor. I just felt like I had an obligation almost, and a belief in giving back since I was given so much. I studied piano and played piano ... and have a real love for the arts. What my life in the Fox Valley has done is dovetail my public interest law background with my music love and my love for the arts. The beauty of the Fox Valley is, I was able to very quickly get involved.
How are you making a difference in the community through your volunteer efforts?
I think I was just able to give to these (arts nonprofit) boards because of my legal background. I ... enjoy the governance side of things. I feel like my love for the arts helps me speak to the passion for that on the board level. That’s why we started the advocacy committee at the PAC. A staff member and I go around the community and give presentations on why we need to give to the arts and support the arts. We want the community to understand the value.
What value do you get from volunteering?
I am much more satisfied in life if I feel as if the world is what we make it and we can actually ... make a difference. If you can get through that initial uncomfortableness of putting yourself out there, I think that’s what life is about, is working together with other people to better other people’s lives and our community and our own lives.
What others are saying about the award winner: Karen Bruno, director of the Lawrence Academy of Music, has worked with Flaherty both through the Lawrence Academy of Music and also on the Fox Valley Symphony’s education committee.
Bruno said Fox Arts Network member organizations nominated Flaherty for the arts volunteer award because her name had come up in multiple agency discussions.
“For one individual to give so much time and effort to so many arts organizations is nothing short of remarkable,” Bruno wrote in a nomination letter. “Her gracious, efficient manner within these leadership roles has helped these organizations remain vibrant and vital. In short, there are very few nonprofit arts organizations in the Fox Valley that have not been touched by Beth’s generous volunteer hand. Her dedication to the arts — for both youth and adults — is unwavering.”
— Kara Patterson: 920-993-1000, ext. 215, or email@example.com; on Twitter @ArtsMinded