Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright profiled in Creative Loafing highlighting his commitment to the arts.

Mayor Ken Wright

Creative Loafing's blog, Fresh Loaf did a nice interview on our esteemed Mayor that I thought I would share. My wife & I also had the pleasure of attending the current show at Stage Door, "A Taffeta Christmas" and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Next week we will be attending the "Sound of Music" at the Center Theater of the MJCCA. Both shows run for at least another week and are well worth the price of admission.

Speakeasy with Ken Wright by Curt Holman

Ken Wright is literally putting his money where his mouth is, both as the first mayor of Dunwoody and as a supporter of the arts. President of health care software company eHealthcareIT, Wright has pledged to donate his first year mayoral salary of $16,000 to Stage Door Players, a small, 24-year-old professional playhouse. Artistic director Robert Egizio says “It will go into a general operating fund to be used as needed. His backing has jump-started a new and profound interest in Stage Door.”

How long have you known the work of Stage Door Players?

I’ve known of them for quite a long time, but have been a regular patron for four years or so. My wife and I have season tickets, and it’s a rare date night for us. Robert is an extremely talented director, and I think it’s important to keep the group whole and give them as much of a future as possible.

How did you decide to give them your first year’s salary?
I was — how shall I put this — convinced to run for mayor, because I’ve never been interested in public office. I’m a businessman and an entrepreneur. But I think community involvement is important. I’ve never done anything for the community and gotten paid for it. I thought a nice way to kick the city off would be for Dunwoody to pick a cause and donate to it. These are guys who could certainly utilize the funding, and it would let folks known they’re out there. The marketing aspect is always a struggle for a performing arts group. They’re certainly an important aspect of our community

It sounds like those auto industry CEOs being paid $1 a year.
They’re not as innocent, though. (Laughs.) It’s the right thing to do.

How did you tell them, and how will they get the money?
I told one of their board members. I didn’t make a big production of it: “Get a picture of Ken with a giant check!” I told them I’m donating my salary after Uncle Sam takes his bite. For a year, it’ll flow right to them.

How important do you think the arts are in a community?
I’ve always been a believer that you have to have a healthy arts aspect to be a well-rounded community. If you don’t, you’re missing something important. If you have a community of all industrial sites, you’re missing a hell of a lot. You have the industrial sites, but no residences, no arts. We’ve got various groups in Dunwoody. We’re fortunate that we have the Spruill Arts Center, which offers classes from A to Z.

Has anyone hit you up for your next year’s salary?
My term is for three years, and we’ll have to see. I’m not Daddy Warbucks. I’ve got a 529 college fund to build up for my children.

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