A! Magazine for the Arts

The auditorium at Milligan College's Seeger Chapel is being renamed the Mary B. Martin Auditorium.

The auditorium at Milligan College's Seeger Chapel is being renamed the Mary B. Martin Auditorium.

Martin Legacy Creates Other Opportunities

August 30, 2010

James C. "Jim" Martin is also supporting other arts organizations and programs with "naming gifts" in his wife's memory. In addition to the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at ETSU, they include:

$1 million to the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tenn. Mr. Martin says, "They badly needed work on their building, designed by New York architect Robert Stern. The repair went well and the building is now called the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall."

• $25,000 annually to the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra for a Mary B. Martin Memorial Concert in April each year. "My late wife was born in April and died in April, so the month has meaning for me," Mr. Martin notes. "These are pops concerts. Two have already been held, with the third due in April 2011. For 2009, the guest performer was Frank Sinatra tribute artist Steve Lippia, followed in 2010 by the Celtic band Mithril. The next concert will feature Dave Bennett, an amazing young clarinetist who plays the old arrangements of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Pete Fountain."

• $500,000 to Milligan College to renovate the auditorium at Seeger Chapel (renamed the Mary B. Martin Auditorium at Seeger Chapel). "It is a widely used venue," Mr. Martin adds. "Many student activities and outside performances (including Johnson City Symphony concerts) are held here."

Dr. Bill Greer, Milligan's vice president for institutional advancement, says, "Mr. Martin was interested in this gift, in part, because it would benefit not only Milligan, but also the symphony and the arts community at large."

• $400,000 to create a Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts for the Town of Jonesborough. "This is a work in progress," says Mr. Martin. "Jonesborough has intensified its push into the arts scene. The town bought the county's old Booker T. Washington School with the intent of converting it into an interpretive area for African-American contributions to Jonesborough and a headquarters for a new arts program. The townspeople have great spirit, are friendly to the arts, and plan to create a cultural center at the rehabbed school."

According to Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, Mr. Martin originally talked about investing in the renovation of the school building as a cultural arts center, but decided to pledge a gift for the arts program, which is harder to fund. The Mayor said he is going to form a Town Board in the near future to govern the program. "Mr. Martin and his family have done many good deeds, and this is just the latest of them," Mayor Wolfe adds. "We hope to begin implementing this program even before we finish renovating the building" (which is currently used only for storage).

"I have been slowly trying to weave a tapestry of local arts-oriented institutions that can cooperate and begin to form an influential presence in our area," Mr. Martin explains. "These institutions and programs fit into the model of what I am trying to accomplish, and they're small enough to where my dollars can make a difference and won't get lost in the noise."

There is no "Martin Foundation" - Mr. Martin handles the negotiations himself, consulting frequently with his step-daughter, Mrs. Sonia King, "who will be in the hot seat when I pass on," he adds. Mr. Martin and Mrs. King are board members of the ETSU Foundation. She is retired from Deloitte & Touche, one of the "Big Four" accounting firms that offer clients accounting, consulting and other financial services.


-- The Martin Legacy Balances "the Scales"