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Jun. 1st Donor Spotlight: Joan & Jim Hunter

How did you first become aware of CATA?

Joan: I saw an early piece Dawn Lane [CATA Program & Artistic Director] created, working with a dancer in a wheelchair, at the archives at Jacob’s Pillow. I was moved to tears watching the piece. I didn’t see disability, I saw art. Then I came to my first CATA Gala, and it blew me away.

Jim: Joan was a special education teacher and a lover of dance. I was neither (laughs). But I came to the gala and was stunned by the performance. What struck me was that these are people –with hopes and aspirations, joy and sadness. Fundamentally, they are the same as you and me but people look at them differently and talk to them differently. At the performance, all those filters were removed.

What has led you to support CATA philanthropically?

Joan: As a former special education teacher, my radar is set to those who are different. What I love about CATA is that you touch the humanity that we are all part of. Too often, people don’t know what to do or say around people with disabilities. Do I get close? Do I say something? CATA helps people become comfortable with disability. There is an artist somewhere in all of us. You tap into that–and the artistry comes through. The fact that you use professional artists to work with this population –that dedication comes through, too. You’re saying, “this population deserves this.” And they do.

Jim: You set an example of how to work with people with disabilities.

Joan: Also, it makes a difference that on every level, I see an organization that is well-run. That makes me confident and comfortable sharing resources. You convey a clear sense of CATA’s mission and bring out the joy of the mission in all your materials.

What inspired your gift to help CATA grow its work in North County?

Joan: The opportunity to grow CATA beyond its initial borders was important to both Jim and me. We saw the quality of what you’re doing and wanted more people to benefit.

Jim: Quite simply, we had a desire to add more to the lives of people with disabilities in North County.

In a region with so many arts organizations and nonprofits, why does CATA matter?

Joan: CATA engages a population of people that aren’t usually the focus of the arts. These are people who deserve to be at the table. We all gain from this experience—the participants, their families and caregivers, and all of us as a community too. It’s a win-win-win.

Jim: I would ask other arts patrons—why do you support the arts in general? This population is deserving of everything the arts have to offer.

Joan: And people who come to CATA events see that. At the Clark last summer, I watched people walk into the room and their jaws dropped. They saw incredibly moving pieces that were beautifully framed and hung in ways that added to the beauty of each piece. If there was ever a time to feel you are doing something positive to serve mankind at the highest level, it’s now. CATA is an oasis of good work being done.