A Letter from Michelle Witt

Dear Friends,


When we launched our 2019–20 Season in October 2019, we expected it to be memorable because it was the first time we had programmed an entire season around a single theme. At the time, we had no notion that our theme, “Empathy,” would turn out to be so relevant.

Our last performance on the Meany stage (though we didn’t realize it at the time) was on March 4, 2020 — ending the season  2 ½ months earlier than planned. That night, we hosted pianist Hélène Grimaud in an extraordinary concert that earned four encores. One week later, due to COVID-19 we canceled the Jerusalem Quartet, and the week after that the Los Angeles Master Chorale. By April 1, we had canceled the rest of the season.

The word “unprecedented” has been used so much to describe recent events that it is in danger of becoming a cliché — but there is no other word to describe the global emergency that has caused such a sudden and immediate change in every aspect of life.

The weeks following the cancellations were hectic, disorienting and, frankly, frightening as we struggled to navigate the immediate challenges before us and plan for an uncertain future simultaneously. For the first time in its forty years, Meany Center was shut down — for how long, nobody could say.

There was no roadmap for us to follow, so we had to make our own.

I am proud to say that the Meany staff rose nobly to the test — though working in isolation from home, we were connected in working together with a shared sense of mission toward a common goal. Along the way, we discovered untapped talents, new ideas, innovative approaches and creative ways to keep connected to our artists and our audiences, even from a distance. 

During those difficult first days and weeks, there was one thing that raised Meany spirits more than any other: the immediate and generous outpouring of support from you, our donors, our patrons, our friends. 

We realized that our original theme of empathy was manifesting daily in your actions: You donated back your unused tickets instead of asking for a refund; you made additional donations on top of what you’d already given; you honored pledges to underwrite shows we had to cancel; you kept hope alive and our organization intact through harrowing circumstances. To know that Meany is so beloved in our community has been a huge motivator for all of us here.

2020 Impact Report-WIX-3.jpg

Photo: Steve Korn

At the end of every season, we compile an “Impact Report” in which we share with you, our friends and donors, the significant ways your support has sustained artists, audiences, students and community members across our region and beyond. “Empathy” was the theme we asked visiting artists to incorporate into their programs this season, but as recent events have shown us, it is also the foundation upon which Meany Center stands.

Truly, without you, there is no us.

With gratitude,


Meany Center Advisory Board


Photo: Erin Candee

Cathy Hughes, co-President

Yumi Iwasaki, co-President

Robert Babs |Ross Boozikee | Catherine Cole* | Luis Fernando Esteban | Davis Fox |Brian Grant 

Aya Hamilton | Rebekah Harris | Kyra Hokanson Gray | Sue Hou | O. David Jackson | Susan Joslyn Sally Kincaid 

Jeff Lehman | Craig Miller | Chelsey Owen |Seema | Pareek  | John Robinson  | Don Rupchock | Robert Stacey* 

Marcie Stone | Don Swisher | Rick Szeliski   | David Vaskevitch | Greg Wallace | Mark Worthington | Kathleen Wright


* Ex Officio  


Meany Center Emeritus Board


Linda Linford Allen | Ellsworth C. "Buster" Alvord, In memoriam | Linda Armstrong | Betty Balcom, In memoriam | Cynthia Bayley | Thomas Bayley  | Cathryn Booth-LaForce | JC Cannon | Betsy Cooper | Gail Erickson | Ruth Gerberding | Ernest Henley, In memoriam |Randy Kerr | Susan Knox | Matt Krashan, Emeritus Artistic Director | Sheila Edwards Lange | Frank Lau | Mina Person, In memoriam | Lois Rathvon | Dick Roth | Eric Rothchild | Jerry Sanford, Sr., In memoriam | Jeff Seely | K. Freya Skarin | Rich Stillman | Lee Talner | Thomas Taylor | Ellen Wallach