In honor of the TCA's 40th season, TCA Director Kelly Jo Gilmore met with Theresa Powers, the president of the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation to talk about the past, present and future of the theater.
Do you remember when you first became involved with Tecumseh Center for the Arts?
My earliest memory of the TCA was when our then 5-year-old daughter played a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz…..this was through Tecumseh Youth Theatre so it was right around 1987…one of the biggest casts ever….it was awesome.
How important do you think the arts and music is to a community?
I feel the arts and music are a vital part of children’s educational experience. And having a venue where they can go even further in their lives with their love of music or acting is the best! I love watching our local adults in Pops or Big Band and the local children in TYT! I’m kind of jealous because I have no musical talent….I tell everyone that I’m good at being in the audience!
As president for the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation, what programming are you most proud of supporting at the theater? The program I’m most proud of is watching the Tecumseh Schools Orchestra perform at the TCA. There have been tears of joy more than once! When Elizabeth passed away in 2001 one of my biggest regrets was that we had not been able to get an orchestra program started in Tecumseh Schools for her. It was her dream and it hurt that we had not fulfilled it. BUT in 2003 we got a break and with the help of Bob Phillips and many others we made it happen….that was the best!
Do you think Elizabeth Wilson would be proud of what the theater has accomplished over the past 40 years? Yes, I believe Elizabeth is very proud of what you have accomplished at the TCA. BUT I do think that one of the things she would still complain about is that there is no way to get from the lobby to back stage! That always bugged her….I’m hoping some day we can change that!
The annual Veteran’s Day event has been a special event for you … one you have been involved with over the years … why do you think this program is important to the Tecumseh community? Elizabeth started the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation around 1995 and she asked me to be on her board of directors…one of the first things we talked about and she wanted to do was support a Veteran’s Day Concert. She felt it was very important to honor those who had fought for our freedoms…so we have tried very hard to make sure that we always have a concert every year….one of my favorite events each year….a great reminder for all of us!
You have worked with a lot of people at Tecumseh Center for the Arts over the years, what are some of your favorite memories? One of my favorites is in the fall of 2001…during a conversation with Rob Steele and he mentioned they were trying to get the seats recovered before the show “1776” and only had a couple teenagers doing it. My husband had just retired so I figured he needed something to do. So I talked him and one of his buddies into going down there with me and helping. So here I come and start giving orders and got a system going and away we went! (The two kids asked Rob if I was a community service person! lol) Well in about two weeks we had all the seats repaired and recovered. (and all too the tune of “Hotel California” because they were working on the sound system at the same time! And we must have heard it at least a hundred times!)
Another favorite was when we had the Canadian group Bowfire come and play with the Tecumseh Schools Orchestra. They rocked the place and became one of my favorite groups!
One real highlight was when Amy Welke (a TSO student) was the first to play with Tecumseh Pops…Elizabeth would have loved it!
And last but not least meeting and becoming a friend with Karen Bunch is right up there.
What would you tell people who have never been to Tecumseh Center for the Arts? I would tell people to give it a try…you will be pleasantly surprised. The TCA is truly a gem of our community!
What would you like to see Tecumseh Center for the Arts accomplish in the future? I would love to just see us keep on growing the way you have in the past few years … I would also like to see us bring back some of the great fiddle groups like we've had in the past!
Any other thing you would like to share?
A way to get from the Lobby to the back of the auditorium without going outside! Elizabeth would love that! Maybe someday!
Behind the scenes of Tecumseh Center for the Arts.