Cathedral Arts Project recognizes Haskell

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  • | 12:00 p.m. January 17, 2008
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by Caroline Gabsewics

Staff Writer

One cannot mention Jacksonville’s art community without talking about Preston Haskell, and the chairman of the Haskell Company is being recognized again for his effort in promoting local art.

Not only is he involved with Jacksonville’s art museums and a collector of fine art himself, but he is also a supporter of various local nonprofit organizations.

Each year, the Cathedral Arts Project recognizes someone in the community who puts an exceptional effort towards safeguarding and advancing the arts along the First Coast, said Kimberly Hyatt, executive director of the Cathedral Arts Project.

In March, Haskell will become the third person to receive that honor as recipient of the Guardian of the Arts Award.

“We give the award to an individual who has advanced the arts in Jacksonville,” she said. “It is hard to think of the arts without thinking of Preston Haskell.”

Haskell said he is thrilled to be this year’s award recipient.

“I really admire what the Cathedral Arts Project has done. I have always been a supporter of the work they are doing in our schools,” he said. “It’s terrific.”

More than 1,300 area students are enrolled in the Cathedral Arts Project after–school classes, with programs focusing on visual and performing arts at Title 1 elementary schools in Duval County. Some of the classes taught include classic ballet, tap, jazz dance, violin, drama, chorus and visual arts.

Haskell said that studies have shown that children who have an appreciation for the arts also have more interest in learning at school. “There is a huge body of research that indicates a strong relationship between learning and arts education,” he said. “They have better academic performance.

“Art education not only enhances the children’s appreciation for the arts, but they are also better students in school.”

Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner Delores Weaver was the first to receive the award in 2006. Jim Winston, a retired developer, was the recipient of the award last year.

Winston and his wife, Mary, are honorary chairs of the event and will present the award to Haskell at the Cathedral Arts’ annual “Spring for the Arts” fundraiser.

The event begins at 6 p.m. on March 14 at the Deerwood Country Club.

Last year’s event raised $273,000. Hyatt said this year’s goal is $300,000.

“The funds go directly towards our classroom programs,” she said. “It is a significant portion of our revenue, because our programs are free to the children so this is very critical for us to keep these programs going.”

The Cathedral Arts Project’s board and the past year’s Guardian of the Arts Award recipient work together to decide who will receive the the next award.

The event is open to the public. About 400 people attended the event in 2007, said Hyatt.

The event will include featured wines from the California wineries of Fidelity National Chairman Bill Foley. International wines will be provided by Winn-Dixie. There will also be gourmet food stations, live and silent auctions and live music.

Tickets are $125 per person and $75 for young professionals, and sponsorship opportunities are available. The PGA Tour is the presenting sponsor for the gala.

For more information on the Cathedral Arts Project or the “Spring for the Arts” event, call Melanie Messer at 281-5599, ext. 18.