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Foundation named for Tarpon director of cultural, civic services

A new arts foundation is named after Kathleen Monahan, director of cultural and civic services for Tarpon Springs. One of Monahan’s strengths is combining arts and the preservation of historic buildings such as the Heritage Museum.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

A new arts foundation is named after Kathleen Monahan, director of cultural and civic services for Tarpon Springs. One of Monahan’s strengths is combining arts and the preservation of historic buildings such as the Heritage Museum.

Kathleen Monahan is a self-effacing sort of person. "My personality is to be in the background and make things happen," she says. "I'd rather not be out front."

But that's not really possible when your name is on a nonprofit foundation, which is what businessman Brent Wadsworth stipulated when he formed the Kathleen Monahan Foundation. He did so to honor Monahan's work as director of cultural and civic services for Tarpon Springs, heading the department that runs the city's excellent arts and cultural programs.

"I tried to dissuade Mr. Wadsworth, and I proposed some other names, but he's a man who knows what he wants," Monahan says. "It's an incredible honor. You can understand how it might feel awkward when I'm raising money for it."

"I did insist on it because Kathy has managed that department for so many years and so well that I felt she deserved the recognition," said Wadsworth, the founder, in 1958, of Wadsworth Golf Construction Co., based in Plainfield, Ill. He spends winters, and enjoys going to performances, in Tarpon Springs, where he lived full time when his company was building Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club.

The foundation, begun with initial gifts of $30,000 from Wadsworth and recently registered as a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a vehicle for raising money to supplement the department's budget, which totals $515,000 this year. The foundation's current assets are about $42,000.

"It's kind of like the relationship of Friends of the Library to a library," Monahan says. "It's a fundraising organization for our arts activities, to do those things that the city can't afford to do, and to ensure that quality programming continues for years to come."

Monahan, 63, a Tarpon city employee for more than 30 years, has been highly resourceful in combining preservation of historic buildings and the arts. "The arts program is part and parcel of our historic preservation," she says. "Most of our buildings for the arts are historic and have been adapted for reuse as cultural institutions."

The performing arts center, the cultural center, the Heritage Museum, Safford House — all are in historic structures that have been renovated and now provide venues for the arts in Tarpon.

"Kathy's ability to attract wonderful performances and do all the necessary administrative work has been remarkable, especially for a relatively small city like Tarpon Springs," Wadsworth says. "She's the best."

The Monahan Foundation is presenting a benefit concert by soprano Katie Saunders, with composer David Ott at the piano, at 7 p.m. Friday at the Heritage Museum. Funds raised will go toward purchase of a grand piano at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $50 and include the concert, gourmet pizza, wine and beer. (727) 942-5605.

Free Clinic benefit

For their third annual benefit concert, members of the Florida Orchestra Musicians Association perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. Proceeds go to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

Featured on the program are two winners of the 2012 Justine LeBaron Young Artist Competition, named for the late French horn player with the orchestra. They are Aaron Lehrian, 18, a pianist from Seminole who will play a movement from Anton Rubenstein's Fourth Piano Concerto; and Brendon Sill, 17, a bassoonist from Seffner who will play Mozart's Bassoon Concerto.

The FOMA musicians will perform Beethoven's Fifth Symphony under the baton of John Bannon, the orchestra's principal timpanist as well as a conductor. Also on the docket is Verdi's overture to La Forza del Destino. $10-$25. (727) 822-3590; mypalladium.org.

Guare play readings

Playwright John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation) is being honored in Sarasota with the Greenfield Prize, and his new play, Eddie in the Andes, is being given readings as part of the Asolo Repertory Theatre's Unplugged New Play Festival. The readings, followed by a Q&A with Guare, are at 8 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m. Friday at the Historic Asolo Theater. $7. (941) 351-8000. Guare will also speak on "My Life, My Work" at 11 a.m. Friday at the Ringling Museum of Art. Free, with reservations requested. (941) 360-7399.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716.

Foundation named for Tarpon director of cultural, civic services 04/13/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 4:35pm]
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