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    Marie Ashdown

    Marie M. Ashdown, Executive Director of Musicians' Emergency Fund (MEF), found a niche in the performing arts after she first arrived in New York  from her native New Orleans. She brought with her the knowledge and experience of a successful performing and production career in television and a lifelong study and interest in music.  Over the years, she has proved herself a diplomat, gracious but firm. Mayor David Dinkins once told an MEF audience, “The reason I’m here tonight is that nobody says no to Marie Ashdown!” The laughter, she recalls, “was a knowledgeable roar.” 

    In 1984, Marie and the Musicians Emergency Fund had a serendipitous meeting of career and leadership. Drawing on her experience as a television producer, Marie laid out a program for finding young singers, providing them with grants and presenting them in a gala event at Lincoln Center. Miss Alice Tully, a personal friend, undertook chairmanship of that first MEF Showcase Concert. The program was a singular success, presenting winners who have since achieved international fame—sopranos Renée Fleming and baritone Alan Held.

    Miss Tully’s confidence and encouragement followed Marie through her many successful years with the Foundation, earning admiration and respect among colleagues and supporters. After a decade or so, Marie changed the direction of the auditions, channeling financial support to the Metropolitan Opera auditions and to regional opera companies that could offer performance opportunities to jump-start young careers. Marie also helped classical musicians find work In high-profile venues,

    Although Marie’s career as Executive Director of MEF is coming to an end with her upcoming retirement,  she will remain active with MEF as archivist of its 76-year history, a kaleidoscope of classical music. She will also serve as a member of the Palm Beach Charities Advisory Board. She will bring a trademark blend of ability, integrity and dignity as she moves into yet another career in her long, rewarding professional life.

    In addition to the achievements outlined above, Marie has

    • Brought direction and innovative programs to MEF, renewing the founding mandate of giving performance opportunities to professional musicians.

    ·        Brought business, artistic and financial high profile professionals onto the Board of Directors for administrative excellence, including its President for the last 15 years, Robert A. Behren. (Previous MEF officials included Mrs. Vincent Astor (Executive Director), Arturo Toscanini (member of the Advisory Board), and Paul D. Cravath (Treasurer).

    • Through artistic grants to major arts organizations in the United States, gave MEF a national identity that it had not previously enjoyed. 
    • Attracted well-known professionals in the music industry for participation in MEF endeavors. 

    ·        Kept MEF on a high level of administrative excellence and artistic integrity.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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