Art for Our Sake


BRUCE THE BLOGcraig schulman_monica schulman_david ring

The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”

So said none other than 20th Century statesman non-pareil Winston Churchill.

The same sentiment in that ode to the arts was evoked at the April 4 annual awards luncheon hosted by ArtsWestchester in White Plains (N.Y.) at the Crowne Plaza. Nine honorees were presented. You can read their names and see more photos below.

Apart from the abundance of talent that was honored in front of an audience of several hundred, the event is made possible by the patronage of First Niagara Bank and its Managing Director David Ring, a resident of Yorktown who also sits on the arts agency’s board of trustees.

Together with spouse Anne – and their talented daughters Ellen and Grace, stage performers both — the Rings epitomize generosity of spirit at the community level, no matter where your community happens to be.

ArtsWestchester is among the not-for-profit groups the Rings support in a number of ways, and they do it with good cheer, compassion and humility. (Though it’s not immediately apparent in the genteel manner of the courtly Mr. Ring, he’s a bit of a weekend daredevil, always in search of the next thrill to test his mettle. Skydiving, anyone? He’s tried to lure me to join him jumping out a plane, but I won’t fall for it.)

ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam — who’s worked as an arts advocate for several New York City mayors — introduced Mr. Ring in part by citing a string of banks on his resume, which prompted the self-effacing money manager to quip, “That made it sound like I can’t hold down a job,” before allowing that the various names were due to a series of mergers and acquisitions.

On the receiving end of Mr. Ring’s award presentation was another Yorktown luminary, virtuoso Broadway performer Craig Schulman. He stands alone as the only actor who has played the leading roles on The Great White Way in smash-hit musicals Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Jekyll & Hyde. In the 10th anniversary staging of Les Miz (on video), during the finale that features Jean Valjeans from around the globe each singing a few bars, Mr. Schulman’s voice clearly is the most powerful.

His spouse Monica Robinson is a prominent Westchester voice teacher, and the family includes student Maya and business-partner brothers Eric and Matt. The Schulmans also run the charity Jenna’s Dream, which benefits young performers in memory of their daughter, who passed in 1998.

As the ArtsWestchester Awards program aptly notes, Mr. Schulman’s “heart is as big as the ocean, which is reflected in a voice that can only be described as electrifying.” Those, fittingly enough, are Mr. Ring’s words.

Both are my neighbors and friends. That’s in the interest not only of full disclosure, but also of full pride.

See all awards luncheon photos by Leslye Smith at

Arts Award 2013

The Arts Awards recognize individuals and organizations whose vision, commitment, and leadership enrich Westchester, its communities, and its citizens through the arts.


Here are the nine recipients of the 2013 ArtsWestchester Award:

Arts Patron: Judy Evnin – a dedicated leader and patron of visual and performing arts

Artist: Craig Schulman – a renowned Broadway performer and producer

Artist: Tony Vaccaro – a photographer of iconic WWII and celebrity images

Arts Organization: RiverArts – promoting arts and culture in the river communities

Community: Dr. Caroline Bauman – founder, Westchester Chamber Music Society

Community: Friends of North Castle Public Library – a cultural hub and originator of  The Armonk Outdoor Art Show

Community: Arc of Westchester – serving people with autism and other developmental disabilities

Education: Archbishop Stepinac High School Drama Club – a theatre program used as an educational tool

Sophia Abeles Education: Rosalie Sauerhaft – arts educator, Performing Arts Center, Purchase College

April 15, 2013 |

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