Billed as "The Boys in Concert," the Westport Arts Center 40th anniversary gala event held Saturday at the Westport Country Playhouse featured members of the original cast of the Tony Award-winning musical "Jersey Boys."
The event also served as a way to honor Richard Pauker who has touched thousands of lives through his passion for and dedication to the arts, according to the WAC. Pauker is an artist and steadfast supporter of the Westport Arts Center for the past decade.
A member of WAC's board, Pauker served as president of the board from 1998 to 2003. Among his many contributions was spearheading the WAC's move from Greens Farms School to its current location on Riverside Avenue. Pauker and his wife, Joyce, continue to participate in every aspect of WAC's arts programming, including exhibition openings, family programs and chamber music and jazz concerts.
"He's constantly at work behind the scenes - talking to sponsors and potential donors and educating individuals about the important role that WAC plays in the community," Nancy Heller, executive director of the Westport Arts Center, said in a news release. "At every turn, Dick is there offering his time and energy, tremendous financial support, and kind and encouraging words for staff members and volunteers."
To celebrate Pauker's longstanding involvement, a short documentary film about Pauker and the Westport Arts Center was screened in the Playhouse's theater before the gala concert performance. The film was donated by 4th Row Films' creator Doug Tirola. Sandy Lefkowitz, adult coordinator of the Westport Youth Film Festival, has been working with Tirola and his staff on the film.
"In the process of making the film, it become evident how our community has been so supportive of the growth and evolution of the Westport Arts Center over the past 40 years," Lefkowitz said in the release. "Richard Pauker is one of those community members who believes that the arts represent the soul of a community."
Proceeds from the gala will support a wide variety of Westport Arts Center programs, including exhibitions, concerts, lectures, children's workshops and outreach initiatives, which reach more than 15,000 people each year.
The 40th Anniversary Gala event was made possible by lead sponsor Fairfield County Bank and co-sponsors U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Moffly Media/Westport Magazine and Westport Resources. Supporting sponsors for the gala are Galaxy Family Resources, LLC., Land Rover Milford, Sue and Bill Mitchell, and Robin Tauck and Peter Romano. The gala is chaired by Jodi Felton and Eileen O'Brien, with committee members including Stacie Curran, William Felton, Tracy Fitzpatrick, Deanna Foster, Nancy Gault, Pam LaRocca, Barry Lieberman, Laura Maged, Debbie McGinley, Eugene Miller, Dale Najarian, Joyce Pauker, Morgaine Pauker and Carol Schneider.