MK Wegmann Receives National Recognition

February 23, 2016  •  3 minute read

The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) honored the top performing arts leaders of 2015 at its annual Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on January 18, 2016. Actor Ben Vereen addressed the honorees and attendees at the event that is part of APAP|NYC 2016, the association’s annual conference and gathering of performing arts professionals. One of the most popular events each year at APAP|NYC, winners are nominated by their peers for having had a significant impact on the industry and on communities worldwide. “This year’s awardees have forged paths of progress for performing arts through vision, passion and hard work. From inspiring great performance to supporting artists and advocating for arts, these beloved leaders continue to make an impact and we are proud to shine a spotlight on each of them and their achievements,” said Mario Garcia Durham, president and CEO of APAP.

The Fan Taylor Distinguished Service Award, APAP’s highest honor, is presented annually to an individual whose outstanding service, creative thinking and leadership have had a significant impact on the profession of presenting and/or on the Association of Arts Presenters. This award honors Fan Taylor, Arts Presenters’ first executive director, for her many contributions to the field of presenting.

Last year’s winner, Alberta Arthurs, introduced the 2016 honoree, whose identity remains a secret until the awards luncheon, as a colleague who “has been in the field for more than 30 years, though not in a usual way. Known to us all, touching us all, this colleague commands no specific stage or schedule, but sweeps amongst us, stimulating ideas, stirring things up, casting the critical thoughts and ideas that help make the field significant.” Arthurs went on to describe the honoree as “fierce in convictions, ‘like a tiger,’ said one informant, ‘like a terrier,’ said another, our colleague is outspoken in the fights for racial and cultural equity, for the roles of community and creativity in lifting lives and lifting values.”

Going on to describe the honoree’s leadership, “The organization led by this singular person provides ‘a web of relationships’ and ‘a bubbling culture of cultures,’ as one seasoned observer describes it. The organization supports artists’ work and access to it, defends artistic expression and experimentation, and asserts that ‘change must come from within the arts.’ That’s a quote from our singular person. An expert evaluator has written, ‘Over its 25-year history, this organization has supported the creation and touring of socially grounded performance, played a catalytic role in developing careers of hundreds of diverse artists, and fostered deeper engagement between artists and communities.’ A second evaluator wrote that its leader is exemplary, ‘a national asset.’”

Arthurs continued, “As often as this colleague is described as fierce, this colleague is also described as quiet, even shy; a good listener, a good learner, absorbing what other people say and observing what they do; outspoken and plain spoken, but also soft-spoken; fierce, but not noisy; a renowned fighter for the good and a well-known party giver; a deep commitment to national and international action and deep, deep dedication to home and dogs; a profound appreciation of makers: makers of art, of ideas, makers of change and makers of good meals and very good martinis.” And then before presenting her, Arthurs said, “Thank you for saluting NPN’s warm and wonderful, deeply ethical, engagingly honest, always inspiring, absolutely unique, MK Wegmann.”

An astonished MK addressed those gathered, “I am so surprised and honored and appreciative. As many of you know, I am stepping down, retiring from this position, looking forward to the opportunity, as I’ve said, to many, to become a colleague again. There are so many people to thank. I want to especially acknowledge Lisa Mount, my partner in life, but Mario Garcia-Durham, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, so many colleagues in the field, David White, who was the founder of the National Performance Network, my colleagues at NPN, Steve Bailey, Stanlyn Brevé…. I could go on and on and I don’t want to take any more time. Thank you so much for this honor. It means a great deal to me and I am totally surprised.”

Arts Presenters has posted on YouTube a video of the awards ceremony. Here’s a link to “clip 3” and the presentation of the award to MK begins at 22:25.