Director's Corner

Rick Davis, Dean and Executive Director

May Days

“What is all this juice and all this joy?” asks Gerard Manley Hopkins in one of his best-loved poems, “Spring.” I write this on the first of May, a traditional date for celebrating all things juicy and joyful, and as this newsletter proclaims, the days ahead are full of both at the Hylton Center.

But first a quick look back at the last couple of weeks. Not only did we get a hefty helping of what another (much earlier) poet, Chaucer, calls April’s “sweet showers that pierce the drought of March to the root” (rough translation), but we announced the stellar lineup for the ’23–’24 season at the Hylton Center, to excitement and acclaim. We also celebrated the 13th annual Hylton Gala on April 28, filling the building with energy, music, connections old and new, and most importantly, with a sense of community. Our honorees, Carlos Castro and John Jacquemin (for the Jacquemin Family Foundation), spoke eloquently about how the arts have helped create, unify, and sustain this most important value. We also came together and raised almost $40,000 in just a few exciting “raise your paddle” minutes for the Veterans and the Arts Initiative. And we danced the night away to the silky jazz vocals of Darden Purcell and Wade Beach, piano, in the Jacquemin Family Foundation Rehearsal Hall (how lovely to have the actual Jacquemin family together in the space that their generosity helped create!) and, in the Gregory Family Theater next door, to the upbeat contemporary sounds of Green and Gold Soul, an element of Mason’s iconic Green Machine.

Our April was full of sweet showers indeed. And the merry (or lusty, depending on which musical source you’re citing) month of May is full of artistic flowers. Read all about it below.

“Mayday” also means something else, especially in the aviation world where I like to spend part of my time. It means you’re declaring an emergency and need special assistance. Now I am not declaring an emergency, but instead (as I sometimes do in this space), presenting a bit of etymology. The term derives from the French phrase “m’aidez” or “help me,” and came into use in the 1920s to provide an internationally recognizable call for the scratchy voice communication channels of the day. It’s guaranteed to get the attention of anyone who hears it.

So, when I say “mayday” here, I’m actually saying “help me.” Help me spread the word about the amazing work on the stages and walls of our beautiful Hylton Center. No one makes a better ambassador for our work, and this spectacular place, than those who have experienced it, and you’d be surprised at how many of your neighbors and friends have yet to find us.

Mayday. Help me—help us—continue to create the kind of community we all want to live in: a community that comes together from all points of the metaphorical compass to share in all this juice and all this joy that the arts have to offer. In May and all the year ‘round.


Rick Davis
Executive Director and Dean