For Mimi and Stuart Rose, it’s all about bringing entertainment to our community and motivating others to remain in the Miami Valley.
“Everyone knows the people in Dayton are nice,” Stuart says. “We hope they’ll say Dayton not only has great people but has great entertainment, too.”
Over the years, the Springboro couple has done a lot to ensure that’s the case. Best known for their major gift to the Rose Music Center at the Heights in 2015, their most recent contribution is the refurbishing of the Dayton Art Institute’s auditorium — which on Wednesday was officially re-dedicated and renamed the Mimi and Stuart Rose Auditorium. The couple’s funding provided everything from new seats, carpeting and flooring to state-of-the-art LED lighting, upgraded sound system, refinished stage, reconditioned wood and marble and backstage video monitoring.
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And although their generosity ranges from providing a water well to an African village to a passionate devotion to Daybreak — the organization that provides safety and stability for runaway, troubled and homeless youth —it’s the Roses’ support of the arts making news at the moment.
Governor’s Award to be presented
On Wednesday, May 16, the couple will be honored in Columbus with the prestigious Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award for the Arts, the statewide program that showcases and celebrates Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts patrons and business supporters. Other Dayton honorees include the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and writer and poet Sierra Leone, president and artistic director of Oral Funk Poetry Theatre Company.
The Roses will be recognized in the category of “Arts Patron,” lauded for generosity which ranges from supporting performing arts centers to loaning rare books from their extensive personal library.
“Whenever we’re in town we try to go to the music center,” says Mimi of the 4,200-seat covered amphitheater in Huber Heights that bears their name. “It’s so relaxing and beautiful there.”
Mimi says that donation was triggered by a Dayton Daily News article that announced Huber Heights was seeking a naming sponsor for its new venue. “I think you’re going to want to do this,” she told her husband as she handed him the newspaper.
Stuart says it was a natural fit. “I spent 40 years working in North Dayton,” explains the businessman whose company, REX American Resources Corp., was located in Harrison Twp. “I wanted to do something for the people on that side of town who had worked for — and patronized — our company.”
One of those nominating the Roses for the Governor’s Award was Huber Heights City Manager Rob Schommer, who says the partnership has boosted relationships, success and opportunities throughout the region. “Originally designed to bring positive growth to Huber Heights, the Rose Music Center has exceeded all expectations,” he wrote. “The facility has served more than 225,000 patrons in the first three years, and brought in more than triple the projected revenue.”
The couple has also funded the construction of the 300-seat Stuart and Mimi Rose Theatre at Dayton’s Miami Valley School and the 358-seat Carey Family Amphitheater at Cincinnati Country Day School. Soon to be announced is the couple’s gift to Stivers School for the Arts, the Dayton Public School magnet that focuses on visual and performing arts. “It will be a new art studio where kids can come and create art called the ‘Crow’s Nest’ and it has the best view of Dayton!” says Stuart, proudly.
“I enjoyed theater at a young age,” recalls Stuart, who remembers going to Broadway plays in New York with his family when he was young. ” I remember seeing shows like ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and ‘Chorus Line.’ I like to support things that bring people together and make Dayton a nicer place to live for everyone.”
Once their gifts are bestowed, the Roses don’t get involved with the details of how their money is spent. “We don’t meddle and we have never been disappointed,” Stuart says. “We pick people we trust and know will do a good job.”
Rare books shared
Stuart Rose is also well-known known for his amazing 2,000 rare book collection. It includes first editions, manuscripts, galley proofs, papyri and illustrations on subjects ranging from science and philosophy to religion and fiction. He’s passionate about his books and gracious about sharing those treasures with the community. “I collect the books everyone has heard of, books that have changed or entertained the world,” he explains.
As a child growing up in New Orleans, he always collected things — coins, New Orleans Mardi Gras doubloons and baseball cards. “Even then, I wanted to have more and the best,” he says. ” If collecting is in your blood, you can’t stop.”
Rose has loaned pieces from his private collection to the Dayton Art Institute for special exhibitions and to the University of Dayton on several occasions. In 2014, a UD exhibit featured 49 of his special books including an original typed draft of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” a first edition of Plato’s complete books in Greek, page proofs of the first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and a first edition of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.”
Also on view were first British and the first American editions of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” along with double signatures of S.I. Clemens and Mark Twain. There was one of only five copies of the original boards of Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice,” a rare first edition of Copernicus’s “De Revolutionibus,” a Shakespeare Folio and one of only two known copies of the first edition of Galileo’s “Starry Messenger.”
After the exhibit, Stuart surprised the school with the donation of a rare “He” version of the 1611 King James Bible and a colorful, whimsical edition of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” featuring illustrations by famed artist Salvador Dali.
Impressed with UD, he says he loved the fact that a wide range of faculty members representing a variety of disciplines collaborated on the exhibition and integrated the selected books into their curriculum. By the end of the academic year, all of UD’s incoming students had read at least one of the influential works. Professors also helped with the online exhibit; students and faculty worked together on the exhibit catalog.
“I worry about the fact that kids don’t like to read and have so many distractions these days,” Stuart told me before the opening of the UD exhibit. “Reading isn’t as popular, there are so many other things for young people to do. But Dayton should be proud. I’ve never seen more appreciation of books than here at the University of Dayton. I hope that the great accomplishments reflected in these books will motivate some of these bright, young students to make accomplishments of their own.”
The Roses are hoping whether it’s an amazing book, an exciting piece of music or a magnificent work of art, their gifts will provide a special experience for folks in the community.
Concludes Stuart Rose: “You never know what’s going to inspire others to do great things.”
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