At Southwest Airlines we connect. We connect People to what’s important in their lives, and we connect to one another as Cohearts systemwide. We also connect in the community – to the hundreds of organizations that champion causes that matter most in the communities we serve. And while the American Repertory Theater, widely known as the “A.R.T.,” based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is known throughout the arts community as a destination for world-class performances, it’s their leader, Artistic Director Diane Paulus that truly embodies what a simple connection can do. This week, Diane was named as one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Jill Simonson, Diane Paulus and Bruce Whitacre at the A.R.T. Gala in Boston
I connected with Diane for the first time having been introduced to her by Bruce Whitacre, the Executive Director of the National Corporate Theatre Fund, of which Southwest Airlines is also a partner. Upon meeting her, I forgot she was a Tony Award winning, hugely sought-after artist who has revolutionized the Broadway musical experience, and likely the most influential person I’ve ever met). I forgot about these attributes because I was overwhelmed and in sheer awe at how humble and kind Diane was. She asked me what shows I enjoyed most and what my work is like at Southwest Airlines. That simple connection shaped my opinion of Diane and her organization, A.R.T.
As community partners to Southwest, A.R.T. is able to produce new productions on various stages around the country – most recently in Las Vegas this Spring - by flying artists, actors, producers and directors in from other cities. And when A.R.T. is working on upcoming shows in Cambridge or New York, Southwest enables those productions to fly-in talent there too. With Southwest, A.R.T. incorporates talented, passionate individuals, all of whom are committed to the arts and what the A.R.T. can offer, regardless of where they live.
Our organizations have a lot in common—I knew about A.R.T.’s grassroots beginnings, Diane’s egalitarian Leadership style, and overall, the creativity and open-mindedness that sets them apart from the rest. Sound familiar? And at the Heart of both of our organizations is a deep-rooted passion for our audience—whether in the theater or in the sky—and our ultimate goal of making each person’s connection enjoyable, original, and one-of-a-kind.
Diane sits among the most influential people in the entire world on TIME’s list, but she wouldn’t tell you that. She’d rather revel at how genuinely proud she and A.R.T. are to be in partnership with Southwest Airlines, as I have witnessed in her remarks a dozen times. Diane’s script is more of how we have championed the organization, and how it is partners like Southwest that enable their work to reach new skies.
Diane, if anyone is proud, it’s us. Congratulations on this most esteemed honor. We LUV you and all you’ve accomplished!