Dreams in action
Officials with the Reilly Arts Center announce plans and progress during annual meeting.
Reilly Arts Center Board Secretary Mike Mangan, Bob Levenson and Grace Dunlevy were on hand for the recent annual meeting. [Julie Garisto]
Words of gratitude for a successful year and news of what’s to come highlighted the Reilly Arts Center’s recent annual meeting.
The center’s executive director, Pamela Calero Wardell, spoke to Reilly members and board representatives on June 23 from a living room-style set with infographic displays going over programming highlights. She discussed new and continuing programming and gave a shout-out to the board of directors for allowing the Reilly to “dream big” and for providing the much-needed “tools and encouragement to put those dreams into action.”
Regular business conducted at the meeting included Calero Wardell leading a unanimous vote for existing officials while welcoming a new board member, Nick Robinson.
Her husband and Reilly CEO/Artistic Director, Matthew Wardell, who conducts the Ocala Symphony Orchestra (OSO), was ill and had to sit out the proceedings.
Calero Wardell announced that the Reilly will be celebrating Matt’s 15th anniversary with the orchestra and the 20th anniversary of the Symphony Under the Lights annual event during the winter holidays (this year on Dec. 1).
she said. “In 2023, we had 139 events and 51,230 guests. Last season, we had 68 events and 26,000 guests. As you know, we were battling with COVID, we were battling with construction and the new space ().”
The Reilly leader applauded Adam Volpe, director of operations at the Marion Theatre, for his leadership in reviving the historic cinema house, which is managed by the Reilly Arts Center and owned by the city of Ocala.
The theater accommodated around 7,000 film lovers over the past year with 700 showings.
“From Thursday through Sunday, you can find movies like “’Casablanca,’ ’Enter the Dragon,’ kids’ films, foreign films, independent films, and you can rent the theater out,” Wardell effused. “Honestly, it’s been a real honor for us to be able to carry the torch and bring this space to life.”
She shared news about the return of the silent film and OSO-backed screening of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923),” accompanied by an original score composed by Maestro Wardell and Brad DeLoatche.
Wardell expressed pride in the Reilly’s Community Music Conservatory, where young musicians can take lessons in the Suzuki Method, a mainstay for string instruments, and other classes.
“This is only year one of the conservatory, and we’ve had 834 classes with 126 students,” Wardell announced. “Margaret Dixon, our director of education, has done a really wonderful job, spearheading the school and we have some great teachers.”
Dixon gave a talk about upcoming educational programming and let the audience know that youth recitals are open to the public.
“If you have the opportunity to come out, even if you don’t have a child enrolled, it’s really cute to watch them play,” Dixon said.
Among the courses launched was a program, presented in partnership with the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission and the Marion Cultural Alliance.
“We have $5,200 in scholarships provided, which is amazing,” she said, adding with enthusiasm that summer camps were underway.Wardell also announced that free tickets to some events will be provided to veterans’ groups and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marion County. She also made an appeal to younger adult-age patrons.
“The Encore Society is engaging concertgoers who are 21 to 45,” she explained. “That’s the age group that we’ve been missing a lot from the orchestra, from concerts, and they’re the next generation of board members of donors, of patrons. .”
Calero Wardell praised the center’s partnership with the Ocala Civic Theatre, which is bringing some cutting-edge programming to the black box theater and assured the crowd that they are continuing to host jazz shows and other younger-crowd-appealing events in that performance space.
She said open orchestra rehearsals presented in tandem with First Friday Art Walk events have helped drum up interest in younger theatergoers.
R.J. Jenkins, president of the center’s board of directors, opened the meeting with remarks of gratitude, reminiscing about the days he would crash the rehearsals of Juilliard students.
“I remember thinking how special that was and how hard it would be to find that type of thing somewhere else, let alone in Ocala, Florida,” Jenkins said. “The Reilly Arts Center, I think you’d all agree, is such a gem in our community.”
The Reilly Arts Center is located at 500 NE 9th St., Ocala. To learn more, go to reillyartscenter.com