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Our Summer Fundraiser and “A Love Story”

Jeanna Shepard Photography

Over the weekend of August 19th and 20th, ArtsEmerson hosted a celebratory and successful summer fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard in support of the Gaining Ground Fund. The weekend revolved around power couple entrepreneur Sheila Johnson and The Honorable William Newman performing a reading of Bill and Sheila: A Love Story– written by playwright Daniel Beaty, and based on the remarkable true story of the couple’s relationship.

The Gaining Ground Fund elevates and encourages the ambitions of the artists developing work for the world stage that reflects the African Diasporic experience in America. The fund allows ArtsEmerson to provide resources that enable artists creating on an epic scale to do so remaining free to enliven their vision and control their artistic processes.

Jeanna Shepard Photography

The weekend kicked off with a Sunday afternoon luncheon, hosted by Valerie Mosley, one of the Event Co-Chairs, at her home in Oak Bluffs. The house served as a beautiful backdrop for members of the host committee and guests to mingle and discuss ArtsEmerson’s Gaining Ground Fund. The historic home, referred to as the “Overton House,” was named for Harlem Labor Leader Joseph Overton. Residents of Oak Bluffs have also called it the “Summer White House,” as esteemed leaders from the Civil Rights Movement, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Joe Louis, Harry Belafonte and Jesse Jackson, would gather there to discuss the future of the movement and racial equality.

Jeanna Shepard Photography

On Monday evening, guests were treated to a lovely dinner in the lush gardens at the Oak Bluffs home of Event Co-Chairs, Dr. Aliya and Reginald Browne. The culminating event of the weekend was a reading of Bill and Sheila: A Love Story at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. It was an evening of joy, community and a reminder of the necessary work to continue uplifting important artists through the Gaining Ground Fund.

This event would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Aliya and Reginald Browne and Valerie Mosley as our event co-chairs, our host committee, and of course the many individuals who believe in the ArtsEmerson vision of a thriving world where art ignites empathy.

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