By LISA WHALEY
General Manager & Editor
Jonesborough staff and residents gathered on Oct, 26 to say thank you to someone Mayor Kelly Wolfe referred to as the town’s “guardian angel.”
“We have a little saying in Town Hall, and I think its true. ‘The good Lord takes care of Jonesborough,’ ” Wolfe told a crowd of men, women and children at the McKinney Center for the Arts at Booker T. Washington School Wednesday. Today, he said, the town had gathered to celebrate the most recent gift from that guardian angel to the town’s art programs, Sonia King and her husband Jim, who was not able to attend.
The donation included:
• $200,000 to to the Jackson Theatre, $100,000 of which will go to provide final touches on the facility
• $50,000 for the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre with $40,000 going to sound equipment and $10,000 for sponsorship of the 2017 JRT shows
• $100,000 to the McKinney Center & Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts, with $60,000 for lighting and sound system needs, $6,000 for website development, $3,000 television studio specific lighting and backdrop, $5,0000 to cover a new AmeriCorp volunteer salary to oversee the Artist-In-Residence Program, $16,000 for exhibit panels, $3,000 for educational scholarships and $7,000 for internships in 2017
• $100,000 to the town for the International Storytelling Center for everything from painting and carpet replacement to door and deck repair.
“Arts are not an extravagance,” said Jennifer Schmidt, artistic director of the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, as she stepped up to voice her appreciation to Sonia King. “Arts help shape our identity as a community. The arts can overcome differences….and the arts lift us up.”
“Sonia, you cannot imagine how excited we are at the JRT, as we sit around and talk about our dreams….”
Such generosity, Schmidt said, is making their dreams a reality.
“The sky is the limit now for what you have done in our town,” she said.
In addition to words of thanks, the reception also featured forms of art designed to illustrate the town’s gratitude. Lucas Schmidt with the JRT sang a special song to Sonia King, featuring a tune by Cole Porter and lyrics by Jennifer Schmidt.
Jules Corriere shared an original story, first read then presented framed, that showcased the meaning of this monetary gift to the town’s arts community.
And Theresa Hammons, director of the McKinney Center, told of being asked to supply a list of wants to the Kings, and then being astounded when each wish was granted.
“We are now 200 students strong,” she said proudly of the McKinney Center’s current classes.
As for Sonia King, she was simply delighted to return to Jonesborough and pleased to be continuing a legacy begun by her father, Jim Martin, on behalf of her mother, Mary B. Martin.
“It’s a joy to be back,” she said. “This town, it holds my heart.”