On Sunday, Jan. 30, friends and colleagues of Mark J. Wright will gather at the Mulroy Civic Center’s Carrier Theater, 421 Montgomery St., to celebrate his life and years of work on behalf of the arts in Central New York. The event, which runs from 1 to 5 p.m., has a sliding scale admission of $5 to $50, with all proceeds going to establish the Mark J. Wright Scholarship for Young Artists at the Central New York Community Foundation.
Wright died Nov. 12 at age 50. In his role as a staff member at the Cultural Resources Council, Wright interacted with arts groups from across a five-county area and strongly believed in the arts’ capacity for building and expanding community. So it’s fitting that this event will feature a range of performers including four resident artists from Syracuse Opera; an after-school group doing a dramatic piece; music and storytelling by Native Circle, a Native American group from Mexico, N.Y.; and Jackie Warren- Moore reading her poetry. She will also act as mistress of ceremonies for the afternoon.
The various performers will be on stage to pay tribute to an individual who played multiple roles in his work with the CRC. Wright discussed the mechanics of grant writing and application with numerous community groups, thought there were ample possibilities for collaboration between groups from various artistic disciplines, and spent much time promoting festivals giving youth an opportunity to perform and have their work critiqued.
Beyond that, he was involved in supporting both arts groups and individual artists and facilitating access to cultural programs. When blues master B.B. King appeared at the Civic Center, Wright distributed five tickets to youth from the Pioneer Homes housing project.
And he took part in activities away from his day job. For a time, he served as president of the board for the Westcott Community Center, playing a key role during the transition from one executive director to another. “Mark was my mentor,” said Steve Susman, the WCC’s current executive director. “As I moved into the job, he helped me in many ways. Over the years, I continued to turn to him for advice on various issues.”
Finally, Wright was intensely interested in theater, particularly in plays that aren’t often performed. At the same time, he emphasized that such plays don’t exist in a separate realm—a successful production depends on a lot of hard work by a director and cast, he believed.
For more information on the Sunday event, call either Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell at 430-3070 or Vanessa Johnson at 708-1063.
Fitting tribute: This Sunday’s event will raise funds to establish a scholarship in the name of Mark J. Wright, pictured here in 2003.