They are the wizards, the people who make things happen on stages and in nightclubs, concert halls, and other performance spaces. They’re seldom in the spotlight themselves. But they bring their eye, ear, baton, management skills, and sometimes checkbook to venues all over town.
James and Esthy Adler
The Adlers have sponsored productions at such theaters as Arena Stage, Round House, and Theater J.
Music director, Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, Friday Morning Music Club Orchestra, and McLean Orchestra
The busy conductor is also a French-horn player with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Founder and artistic director, Dance Institute of Washington and Washington Reflections
The former Dance Theatre of Harlem soloist has helped give hundreds of DC children a chance to dance.
President, Sweet Honey in the Rock
Founder Bernice Johnson Reagon left Washington’s signature a cappella group in singer Barnwell’s able hands.
Chair of the board, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
The Cafritz Foundation is a major funder of arts organizations.
Many major musicals and opera productions have the stamp of Camp.
Host, WAMU’s Traditions
The host of the area’s longest-running radio show devoted to folk music, Cliff is a goddess to folk fans.
Executive director, Cultural Development Corporation
Flashpoint, a DC gallery and performance space for emerging theater groups, artists, and performers, is a Corbett creation.
Founder, African Heritage Dancers & Drummers and African Heritage Dance Center
Deal is the granddaddy of African dance in the region.
General director, Washington National Opera
With Domingo at the helm, the WNO has attracted world-class talent and world-class benefactors.
J. Freedom du Lac
Pop-music critic, Washington Post
Rock fans follow his blog as well as his reviews in the Post.
Cofounder, Knock on Wood Tap Studio
Known as Washington’s “tap lady,” Edwards has taught and nurtured tappers for 61 years.
Paul Gordon Emerson
Artistic director and cofounder, CityDance Ensemble
In addition to teaching, choreographing, and directing his contemporary-dance company, Emerson runs one of the area’s leading educational-outreach programs.
Executive director, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland
Farr has a beautiful complex with theaters for intimate performances as well as grand concerts to showcase the university’s acclaimed music school and other talent.
Executive director, Duke Ellington Jazz Festival
Dizzie Gillespie’s former manager is determined to make DC a jazz mecca and to honor its famous native son Duke Ellington.
Founding artistic director, Catalyst Theater Company
Fortier produces daring new works that make the big boys sit up and take notice.
Janet Alexander Griffin
Artistic producer, Folger Theatre
Griffin has a knack for finding what’s new in what’s old, whether it’s manuscripts, music, or plays.
Chair, Harman International Industries
Harman is the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s $19.5-million angel.
Music director, American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras
The longtime conductor, a violinist with the NSO, has led many orchestras and arts organizations in the area.
Owner, 9:30 Club
Hurwitz, with sidekick Lisa White, attracts top talent and gives up-and-comers a start at one of the hottest live-music venues in town.
The longtime booker for Blues Alley also leads jazz bands and plays brilliant trombone.
Manager and co-owner, DC Improv
Booking acts for her club and for other large events, Jaffe is at the center of the comedy scene.
Manager, Birchmere and Iota Club & Café
Jaworek covers the musical waterfront. If folk, blues, and roots artists are in town, they’re playing at the Birchmere.
President and CEO, Wolf Trap Foundation
Jones is committed to new works and to enhancing the reputation of the only national park devoted to the performing arts.
Founder, Playwright’s Forum
Joselovitz is father figure, fundraiser, and head cheerleader for the forum, which offers classes as well as information on playwriting opportunities.
Artistic director, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Kahn stages productions at two theaters and is expanding the company’s repertoire far beyond the Bard.
President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Kaiser has wrangled money from a tightfisted Congress to upgrade his aging building. He loves dance, and the center’s dance programs have never been stronger.
Musical director, Signature Theatre
Jon K. is Washington’s music man. He’s had 18 Helen Hayes Award nominations and won four, and he has guest-conducted the area’s symphony orchestras.
Division chief, Arlington County Cultural Affairs Division
Arlington County is the best local-government incubator for the performing arts, and Kaplan is the mother hen.
Founding CEO and chair emeritus, AOL
The billionaire has donated millions to the Kennedy Center. He’s chair of the Washington National Opera and on the executive committee of the National Symphony Orchestra.
Robert and Arlene Kogod
The Kogods are major donors to several theaters including the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.
Jane Lang and Paul Sprenger
Founders, Atlas Performing Arts Center
Their H Street, Northeast, venue gives emerging artists a place to shine.
Founding artistic director, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
Lerman has been heralded all over the world for having knocked down barriers of age and size for dancers.
J. Reilly Lewis
Founder and music director, Washington Bach Consort
Lewis not only directs the Bach Consort, one of the best chamber groups in the area; he’s also a master keyboardist and music director of the Cathedral Choral Society.
Theater critic, Washington Post
His review is the first to be read after opening night, and his raves drive ticket sales.
Lucy Bowen McCauley
Artistic director, Bowen McCauley Dance
The dancer and choreographer’s Arlington-based contemporary company is considered one of the area’s best dance troupes.
Mead and her late husband, Gilbert, have donated millions to build and support local theaters, including $35 million to Arena Stage.
Artistic director, GALA Hispanic Theatre
With an international reputation, Medrano and his wife, Rebecca, acquaint audiences with the richness and diversity of Spanish and Latin American plays.
Theater critic, Washington City Paper
The longtime critic is a trusted voice for theatergoers.
President, Washington Performing Arts Society
As the area’s impresario, Perl brings performers representing every genre of music and dance to local stages.
Founder and director, Dance Place
The teacher and choreographer is committed to bringing modern dance to audiences of all ages and cultures.
Artistic director, Olney Theatre Center
The Olney board asked its longtime director to reconsider his decision to step down—and he did. He’s sticking around to continue directing thought-provoking plays.
President and CEO, Strathmore Hall Foundation
Strathmore is the house that Pfanstiehl built: He lobbied for funds from the state and the county, lured the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to his splendid new concert hall, and kept the mansion intact for chamber music, art shows, teas, and weddings.
General manager, George Mason University Center for the Arts
Reeder—dean of the university’s arts school—has made GMU a major arts destination.
Artistic director, Round House Theatre
Now in his third season at Round House, Robison has built a solid base audience in Montgomery County.
Artistic director, Theater J
Both a playwright and a director, Roth produces works that relate to the Jewish experience, but he interprets his mandate broadly with increasing success.
Cofounder and artistic director, Signature Theatre
Best known for staging Sondheim musicals, Schaeffer has given Signature great access: It’s the first regional theater given the rights to produce the musical Les Misérables.
President and executive director, Washington Area Music Association
The longtime music producer helped found the association in 1984 to promote the city’s music scene. Now every local musician wants a Wammie award.
Stephen A. Schwarzman
Chair, Kennedy Center
A Wall Street wizard, Schwarzman is president Michael Kaiser’s great hope for modernizing the aging center.
Artistic director, Choral Arts Society of Washington
Scribner has made this one of the nation’s top cities for choral music.
Artistic director, City Choir of Washington
After more than 30 years at the helm of the Washington Chorus, the conductor and educator is now leading a new ensemble.
Cofounder and artistic director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Shalwitz doesn’t shy away from the wacky and weird, and he often brings new works to light. After his premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, the play moved to New York.
Chair, Helen Hayes Awards
The local theater-awards program celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2009. Shargai is a major donor and mainstay of the local theater community.
Manager, Westminster Presbyterian Church Jazz Nights
The jazz vocalist and former Redskins defensive back is one of the chief organizers of the city’s sizzling jazz scene.
Artistic director, Arena Stage
Smith has attracted a diverse theater audience with a mix of American classics and works celebrating the African-American experience.
Artistic director, Imagination Stage
Stanford, along with Imagination Stage founder Bonnie Fogel, has pioneered acting programs for children with disabilities and offers great productions for young audiences.
Producing director, Ford’s Theatre
When the historic theater reopens in February after a 16-month renovation, Tetreault will have a bigger and better canvas for his great American vision.
Artistic director, Children of the Gospel Choir and Men and Women of the Gospel Choir
The commanding choral director leads the way in gospel music, showcasing some of Washington’s top voices, young and old.
Artistic director, Washington Ballet
The director and choreographer has heightened the company’s profile and outreach as he celebrates ten years with the city’s revered ballet troupe next spring.
Founder and producing artistic director, Studio Theatre
Zinoman, often working with Studio Theatre 2ndStage artistic director Keith Alan Baker, uses her multiple stages to produce edgy new works, some by top playwrights such as Tom Stoppard.