Phi­lan­thropy on the strip

Pasatiempo - - Onstage This Week - Whited foun­da­tion

On Oct. 9, New York’s Metropoli­tan Opera in­au­gu­rates its 2010-2011 The Met: Live in HD se­ries with Wag­ner’s Das Rhein­gold, and res­i­dents of Ra­ton can ex­pe­ri­ence it on the screen of the his­toric El Ra­ton The­atre. The equip­ment that fa­cil­i­tates show­ings of the se­ries was pur­chased by the Whited Foun­da­tion, work­ing with the Santa Fe Trail School for the Per­form­ing Arts. It’s just one ex­am­ple of the art­sori­ented phi­lan­thropy of the Whited Foun­da­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to nom­i­na­tor Bill Fe­gan (who re­ceived a Gover­nor’s Award for Ex­cel­lence in the Arts in 2007), the Ra­ton-based foun­da­tion sup­ports schol­ar­ships in the arts and has given fund­ing to about 20 dif­fer­ent lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing ma­jor grants to the Ra­ton Main­Street pro­gram and Ra­ton pub­lic schools. “We do schol­ar­ships for Ra­ton high school grad­u­ates to pur­sue stud­ies in the fine arts,” said Mark Mor­ris, chair­man of the foun­da­tion’s board of di­rec­tors. “We’ve bought new band in­stru­ments and uni­forms and choir robes, and we just ap­proved the pur­chase of some com­put­ers for the high school to start a graphic-de­sign pro­gram.” The foun­da­tion also funds the Ra­ton Arts & Hu­man­i­ties Coun­cil, which has an an­nual per­form­ing-arts pro­gram — this fall, the sched­ule in­cludes Rhythm & Pas­sion — a tango/salsa show — and the Red­head Ex­press blue­grass group.

“We also do fund­ing for Mu­sic From An­gel Fire,” Mor­ris said. “The or­ga­ni­za­tion puts on a con­cert here in Ra­ton, which is free to at­tend be­cause we give them spon­sor­ship dol­lars.”

The Whited Foun­da­tion is named af­ter a lo­cal cou­ple, Jim and Leila Whited. “They were long­time Ra­ton res­i­dents,” Mor­ris said. “He owned a jew­elry store, and he was very as­tute with in­vest­ments in the stock mar­ket. The foun­da­tion was started in 1997 upon their deaths.”

“Jim Whited di­rected the city band, and he was the song leader for Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional all over the world,” Fe­gan re­called. “Wher­ever there was an in­ter­na­tional Ro­tary con­ven­tion, they were there. He led the sing­ing, and she played the pi­ano.”

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