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Santa Clara Performing Arts Foundation to Honors SC Ballet Founder, 49ers

The Santa Clara Performing Arts Foundation (www.santaclaraarts.org) is celebrating its first birthday by honoring two notable, long-time members of the community. At an August 24 gala event sponsored by the Hilton Santa Clara, the non-profit will present Santa Clara Ballet founder Josefa Reyes with the first-ever Arts Pioneer Award. The foundation has also awarded the San Francisco 49ers with its 2013 SCPAF Founders Award.

A Cornerstone of South Bay Classical Ballet Training

For over 40 years the Santa Clara Ballet (santaclaraballet.com) has been an integral part of the South Bay arts scene, thanks to the dedication and perseverance of the company’s founders, Josefa Reyes and her late husband Benjamin Reyes.

Originally from the Philippines, Reyes danced and taught ballet in San Francisco in the 1960s. Her background includes engagements with the Celeste Ballet of San Francisco, the San Francisco Opera Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet.

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In 1972 the couple moved to Santa Clara where they raised their family and established the Santa Clara Ballet School. Today the school is one of only two classical ballet schools in the city and is known for its personal attention to the development of each and every student. The company’s Nutcracker performance is part of the city’s annual holiday festivities – right up there with the teddy bear that tops the city Christmas tree.

This nurturing environment has fostered several professional careers. Reyes’s son, Andre Reyes, went on to become a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and the Pacific Northwestern Ballet. Other students have gone on to start their own dance companies in addition to dancing professionally.

In 2011, the San Francisco-based Isadora Duncan Dance Awards – the “Izzies” – Committee honored Reyes with its Sustained Achievement award for offering instruction and training in classical ballet and performance opportunities for children and Bay Area professional dancers.

Touchdown for the Arts

For the San Francisco 49ers (www.49ers.com), delivering wins in the community is as important as on the football field. Over the quarter century they have made their home in Santa Clara, the 49ers non-profit foundation has been a strong supporter local non-profits including the Mission City Community Fund, Santa Clara PAL, and the Santa Clara Schools Foundation.

The team’s owners, the York family, are widely honored for their contributions to the Bay Area community – from chairing Second Harvest food bank drives to spearheading innovative programs for at-risk young people.

The 49ers’ sponsorship of the SCPAF’s first event, An Evening Under the Fireworks with the San Francisco 49ers, was key in launching the non-profit, which provides a variety of marketing, education and networking services to local performing companies.

In 2012, the fledgling group approached former City Council Member Kevin Moore for advice on launching an organization that would build synergy among the city’s diverse performing companies and help ensure their financial stability.

Moore reached out with the “Hail Mary” pass to 49ers CEO Jed York. “The group needed a successful, high visibility, high energy event for a kickoff,” says Moore. “Jed York caught the Hail Mary pass and offered to sponsor the event at 49er headquarters.”

The 49ers started the evening with a locker room tour and followed it up with a buffet dinner prepared by the 49ers chef, a keynote address by three-time Super Bowl champion Guy McIntyre, silent auction gifts including signed jerseys and footballs, and appearances by Gold Rush cheerleaders.

“I applaud the SCPAF board’s decisions to award the 49ers its first-ever Founders Award,” says Moore. “Last year’s event was a blast, both literally and figuratively, with an awesome fireworks show and outstanding entertainment. And the SCPAF has kept the momentum going since then. I can’t wait for what they have in store for us this year.”

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