Overture Center Severs Ties with Tom Wopat
Overture Center for the Arts announced today that the Tommy Awards program will sever all ties with namesake Tom Wopat.
For nearly a decade, Overture Center for the Arts through its Tommy Awards program has encouraged, recognized and honored excellence in high school musical theater. Throughout this time, the program has grown into one that is recognized nationally and several Tommy Awards recipients have grown into career musical theater professionals. The program has always kept the best interest of involved students and schools in mind to maintain a positive, inspirational experience.
As part of the planning for the ten-year anniversary in 2019, there have been internal discussions for a timely change of the program name in a process that includes program partners, school communities, program alumni, Overture staff and stakeholders.
At the inception of this program in 2009, the Overture Center staff reached out to Wisconsin actor Tom Wopat to use his name and endorsement of the program with the intent to inspire Wisconsin young people that a career in the performing arts was possible. Mr. Wopat agreed to let Overture use his name to lend credibility to the new program. Since that time, he has neither participated or supported the program financially.
Given the recent news surrounding Mr. Wopat, Overture Center for the Arts has severed all ties with him and will be moving forward with discussions for the high school musical awards program’s name. “Overture firmly believes the arts provide a safe haven for all to participate and enjoy inspirational experiences without fear or compromise of respect for others,” said Ted DeDee, Overture’s president and CEO. “We will especially continue to focus on providing a positive environment and influence for students and schools of Wisconsin.”
When allegations against Mr. Wopat were first announced, Overture communicated with program partners and removed his signature from the program and partner website, all electronic and future print materials. A statement was issued to all directors, reviewers, and representatives at program partner organizations including Wisconsin Public Television, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee and The Grand Theater in Wausau to let them know that Overture was discussing internally awaiting the trial and verdict, while keeping students as the top priority and focusing on the integrity of the program.
Participation Statistics 2016/17
• 87 productions
• 82 schools
• 23 counties
• 35 reviewers (three reviewers attended each production)
• 400+ students performing in annual awards show in Overture Hall
• 85,000 people involved in the Tommy Awards through engagement with their local high school musical
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