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Mary B. Martin School of the Arts benefactor continues giving to help students, region

Nick Shepherd • Jul 11, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Jim Martin continues to give away millions to East Tennessee State University’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. His most recent gift was $1 million last fall.

That gift brings the total amount of money donated by Martin to $4 million since 2009. Martin established the school in 2009 with a $1 million endowment in the name of his late wife.

The school brings all of the arts at ETSU under one umbrella and allows for various artists to visit the university. Recent artists to visit the school include renowned magician Kevin Spencer, Spanish dance group Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and the Miami string quartet.

“We are bringing high quality artists to the university,” said Anita DeAngelis, the school of the arts director. “We would not have been able to do that without him.”

Martin can dictate where the money goes and what it is spent on. All of the money is being focused on promotion of the arts in the region and bringing in artists who would not normally come to Northeast Tennessee.

Vice President for University Advancement Richard Manahan said Martin’s gifts have been invaluable not only to ETSU but to the region as a whole.

“You can imagine what $4 million will do for a school,” he said. “Arts is difficult to fund and his leadership has been important to the university and to the region as a whole.”

The school is preparing for its fourth season of performances. Some of the acts that will be at ETSU next year include bringing back the Southern Circuit of Independent Filmmakers and Philadanco, a Philadelphiabased dance company that has been celebrated for its innovation, creativity and preservation of predominantly African-American traditions in dance. There will also be several storytellers brought to the region.

The programs are not just for students seeking a major in the arts, but extend to all students.

“We invite students from other schools to the events,” DeAngelis said. “It’s not just students in art who benefit, but students all over campus. It could probably help recruitment of students in the long run.”

DeAngelis also said that students who are in the arts benefit from the event, because they are getting exposed to different artists.

This exposure would not have been possible without Martin.

“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Manahan said. “He is a quality individual who does it in a way that reaches for excellence all the time.”

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