New World School of the Arts establishes the Legacy Society with sparkling reception in Coral Gables

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New World School of the Arts launches the NWSA Legacy Society to celebrate its 25th Anniversary

With an elegant soiree hosted by Armando Guerra and his wife Maria Catá-Guerra, NWSA Executive Board member, in their lovely home in  members of the Legacy SocietyCoral Gables, Florida, it was a sparkling evening for New World School of the Arts’ supporters, founders, students and faculty. In spite of the constant sprinkling that has graced Miami over the past few days, more than fifty friends of the arts conservatory gathered to celebrate the school’s 25th anniversary and honor its generous benefactors. “Despite the gloomy weather, our home was filled with warmth and beautiful music,” said Maria Catá-Guerra. 

It was also the perfect occasion to announce another remarkable milestone in the history of the school - the NWSA Legacy Society, a newly established gift-giving initiative that promises to sustain New World School of the Arts for decades to come.

Conceived by former NWSA Foundation Board member, Lydia Harrison and her husband Burt Harrison along with NWSA Foundation Board Chair, Dennis Edwards earlier this year, the NWSA Legacy Society enables supporters to include New World School of the Arts in their estate planning to augment the institution’s scholarship coffers. With over two million dollars already pledged, the program is off to a stellar start.

“New World School of the Arts is such a force in our community and in the globe”, said Lydia Harrison as she introduced the program. “Our students are not only forging the way in all aspects of the arts, many are joining the ranks of doctors, lawyers and engineers, while others are leaving their mark in the fields of academia, government and non-profit organizations. We need to make sure that scholarships remain funded in perpetuity at this wonderful institution, not just to benefit the next generation of artists, but also for the good of our community.” Co-founder of the initiative Dennis Edwards added, “Forming the Legacy Society allows us to identify, recognize and thank those in the community who are securing the future of NWSA.”   
Accompanied by champagne ‘n berries and savory hors d’oeuvres, the evening began with a welcoming showcase by a music quartet comprised of young New World School of the Arts musicians. Guests, who had the opportunity to mix, mingle, and reminisce about the early days of New World School of the Arts were also treated to another spectacular display of talent as six college theater students interpreted popular musical numbers for their delight. 

Jeffrey Hodgson, Interim Provost of New World School of the Arts, led the program as he acknowledged the invaluable support that NWSA has received from key members of its board and patrons of the school since its inception – “Tonight was an opportunity to thank our closest friends and supporters in this intimate and beautiful reception.  After 25 years of love and support for the students of our school, these generous friends have again proven their deep commitment to NWSA through the newly-founded Legacy Society.  They have made New World’s silver anniversary shine, illuminating the path forward brightly.” Among those who joined the celebration demonstrating their steadfast commitment to the school was Lydia and Burt Harrison, Carmen Bishopric, Maria Alonso, Dr. Robert McCabe, Mark Trowbridge, Myrna and Sheldon Palley, Matthew Meehan, and Mark Steinberg among many others.

Founding members of the NWSA Legacy Society were also recognized and applauded for their vision and dedication. The participants that have already pledged their support were honored with a unique hand-made glass sculpture created by Susan Banks, a New World School of the Arts sculpture professor who has been with the school for the past twenty-two years. Susan meticulously crafted and presented each unique multicolored glass “river stones” housed in their own cast molds for members of the new initiative. 

Dennis Edwards, who was second to select his prized artwork from among twenty exclusive pieces mentioned “The glass ‘river stones’ are a beautiful and meaningful  token of appreciation for members of the Legacy Society.  Like each donor, each is unique, but together they form a lasting foundation for our school.  I will treasure mine, because when friends see it displayed in my home, and comment on its beauty, it will give me the chance to explain its purpose and meaning.”  Inspired by the bedrock in a river, the artwork illustrates the importance of having a strong and united group of Legacy Society advocates.
The evening concluded with a sumptuous buffet dinner al fresco, coffee and delicate desserts, and with the promise of a brilliant future for New World School of the Arts made possible through the support of visionaries from our community, loyal friends and generous benefactors. “Congratulations to the wonderful devoted staff and talented students of New World who created such a memorable evening. Our home will always be open to our new friends” concluded Maria Catá-Guerra. 

About New World School of the Arts: Celebrating its 25th year, New World School of the Arts (NWSA) is a world-class center of excellence in the visual and the performing arts providing a comprehensive program of artistic, creative and academic development. With programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater, and Art and Design, NWSA offers the high school diploma as well as the AA and the four-year BFA and BM college degrees. Through a rigorous curriculum that reflects the rich multicultural state of Florida and conservatory training, it empowers students to become leaders in the arts. Since 1988, more than 3,700 students of every economic and ethnic background have graduated from NWSA – many joining the ranks of prestigious arts organizations. 

NWSA alumni are becoming integral members of the national and international arts arena, expanding the landscape of our community. They are recognized artists, playwrights and performers winning Tony and Grammy awards. They perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center and in major opera houses. Our visual art exhibit in Art Basel and in the Whitney Biennial and our choreographers lead major dance companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and dance with the Martha Graham Dance Company, among others.

New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts. It is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College, and the University of Florida.

Photos courtesy of NWSA
Photographer:  by Juan E. Cabrera
Photo IDs: [on photos]