After a decade of working to fulfill the promise of the arts across Fairfield and New Haven County, it's time for the to celebrate the fruits of its labor.
This Saturday, the Orange-based foundation will host their tenth annual gala benefit at the Regina A. Quick Center at Fairfield University. It's a star-studded event, featuring the show tunes of New York-based vocal pop act the Broadway Boys. But there's more to it than that. This year, for the first time, the gala will feature performers from foundation-sponsored programs, including the Race Brook Stars and Amity Creative Theatre -- a host of artists whose lives have been impacted by the foundation over the past decade.
"We're trying to do things a little differently this year," says director Judy Primavera.
Primavera started the foundation in memory of her daughter, Jamie, in 2002. When she lost Jamie to leukemia, she decided to launch a project that would honor her memory and fund the kind of theatre and musical projects Jamie loved.
"Jamie was a musical theatre person," says Primavera, "and had been since she was a kid -- five years old." She had attended -- so Primavera provided a grant to launch the Race Brook Stars for fifth grade students. Since it's been a hit, it was only natural to invite them to the gala.
"There was so much enthusiasm," says Primavera. "They asked me, can we show this off? It's something the children look forward to every year. They can't wait to be in fifth grade to do it."
Amity's Creative Theatre, another project built on grant money from the foundation, will perform at the gala. The foundation's good relationship with Amity has also led to the visiting artist program and an annual film festival. Primavera credits Superintendent John Brady's enthusiasm for art education.
"That's incredibly refreshing," she says. "I'm a psychologist by trade, so speaking with that hat on, I'm very concerned about the focus of education in general -- not just preparing children to learn the right answers to take a test. There's a lot more money going into the other parts. But I think the arts are what make us human -- and humane."
But the foundation provides grants far beyond Orange and Amity High School. At least thirteen schools in the region have received grants, says Primavera, and children in Bridgeport, Fairfield and New Haven benefit from its support. Since the Hulley Foundation's reach is so wide, the event is peppered with artists, vocalists, dancers and musicians who have been impacted by its funding.
"I joke with them and say, 'I'm Italian, once you're in our family you never leave,'" says Primavera. "I routinely have coffee, breakfast, lunch, or dinner with them. They send Christmas cards, and they visit when they're in town. And then when they have an idea they can come to us for a grant."
Tickets are $40 by phone or $45 at the door, and can be purchased by calling 203-254-4010. For more information about the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation, visit their web site.