Gloria and Harvey Evans Make a Substantial Leadership Gift for a Performing Arts Center
Longtime community members Gloria and Harvey Evans decided they wanted to
leave a legacy for this generation and for generations to come. As part of the Generations
capital campaign, they were inspired to fulfill their dream of a major performing
arts center (approximately 400 seats) at the J that could be used by the entire
community as a central home for the performing arts in northwest Austin.
Long Time Residents The Evans’ Texas roots started in Fort Hood, where their son was born. After the military, they returned to New York and chose to live in Staten Island where Harvey
was one of the first dentists on the Island. Their children had a great public-school
background and enjoyed New York. However, when it was time for their son to choose
a college, the native Texan wanted to return to his home state. Their daughter, Debbie
would later attend Trinity University as well.
Travelling from New York to San Antonio (where Trinity University was located) was
difficult. In order to avoid long layovers, they flew to Dallas instead and then drove to
San Antonio. On their trips from the Dallas airport to San Antonio, they came across this
small -- very small -- town called Austin. “Even though we always thought of moving
to Arizona, Austin called to us. A big attraction was the natural beauty of the city and
the amount of culture and arts. We moved here 37 years ago in 1980 when the Jewish
Federation was located on Balcones Drive, 183 was a two-lane road and there wasn’t a
bridge over Lake Austin for the Capital of Texas Highway." When they moved to Austin,
partly because of the arts scene developed and funded by UT, they became founding
members of the Austin Opera, the Long Center and the JCC’s arts series. They have
been involved in the expansion of the J, ZACH Scott Theater, Ballet Austin, Austin Opera,
the Austin Chamber and other organizations, serving on the boards of many of these
Why the Performing Arts Center?
The Evans have always been fond of the arts. Some of their early dates in New York City
were to see the performing arts. Even though they barely had any money, they remember
fondly the times that they could scrape enough together to go into the city for theater
performances, ballet and the opera. Their love in the arts in New York created the seed.
As Harvey said, “When I first started to find the J, it was a small room on Balcones. The
rest is history. It is very exciting to be part of a vibrant Jewish community. We want the
young families and their children to have what our children Mitch and Debbie did not
have on Staten Island -- a great J and a great central place for cultural performances.”
As Gloria described, “It is our dream to have a performing arts center at the J and in
Northwest Austin. The Jewish people have always been leaders in the arts and the J’s
location could not be more central and fitting.”
Harvey went on to say, “Judaism is important to us and we love seeing how important
it now is to the next generation, our granddaughter Rebecca who has a special Jewish
identity. It brings us great joy to be able to help provide a space for major performances
and a child’s first performance. The arts are an important part of quality of life for us and
we are glad that we can help play a part in bringing it to more people in a great facility.”
The existing social hall will be renovated to allow for approximately 400 retractable
seats that can be set up in many different sizes and configurations based on an
audience size. Similar seating has been used successfully in several other JCCs to allow
for the versatility of great seating for performances as well as a flat floor when needed.
Located between downtown and the Domain, the Harvey and Gloria Evans Performing
Arts Center will have plenty of parking and easy access.
For All Generations, For Generations To Come
“The Evans’ gift is transformational. Their major leadership gift will allow us to create
a great place for performances that can be used for everything from the Early Childhood
Program to a major cultural arts performance. We hope that others will be inspired by their desire to create a meaningful legacy for our community. Hopefully others will want to continue to make a mark at their own legacy as together our community works to create a unique campus for Austin,” said Keith Zimmerman and Judy Waxman, co-chairs of the Generations Campaign.
As they approach their 60th anniversary in March, they can think of no greater gift
than the Harvey and Gloria Evans Performing Arts Center. As Gloria aptly put it, “as
Harvey and I thought about our long-term legacy, we couldn’t think of something that
would be a better blend of our three greatest passions—Judaism, the arts and families.
It is our hope that this center will be used by young and old and make a difference in
the quality of people’s lives for generations. As the two of them pet their beloved cats,
Bianca and Sexy, they smile and say, “the idea of seeing Fiddler performed in this center
in our life time and thinking of our great, great grandchildren enjoying a show of Fiddler
or other performances at this center after we are long gone, makes us kvell with pride.
Giving back to our community is what we should all do. It feels great and makes such