Sarah Marks Richards: The Arts Speak to the Soul
Interlochen Arts Camp alumna Sarah Marks Richards (IAC '58, IAC staff '62–64) believes in creating a legacy, and her recent decision to establish a planned gift ensures that her legacy will include a lasting impact on the next generation of artists at Interlochen Center for the Arts.
From a family of musical women – her grandmother was a pianist and her mother a vocalist – Sarah was introduced to Interlochen during regular visits from her home state of Indiana to Leland, Michigan, where her grandparents had a summer home. In high school she studied voice and theater at the National Music Camp and loved it so much that she returned for three summers as a cabin counselor. Although she spent just four summers total at Interlochen, the impact was far-reaching. Sarah made lifelong friendships and came away with a global perspective of what an arts institution can do. "Interlochen provided a fantastic foundation in all the arts and the impact the arts can have on all of life," Sarah says.
This broad view of the arts steers her professional work today. Currently president of the Hawaii Theatre Center in Honolulu, Sarah presided over the $32 million restoration of the historic theatre, and her work was recognized by the League of Historic American Theatres and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Previously, she was the executive director of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. In addition, Sarah was founder and past president of Hawaii Opera Theatre and currently serves on the board of the League of Historic American Theatres, as well as numerous Hawaii arts and charitable organizations.
Through her work with so many arts organizations, Sarah understands more than most the importance of training young artists as well as cultivating lifelong arts patrons. She credits Interlochen for attracting not only students who will go on to pursue the arts professionally but also those who will support the arts throughout their lives. Reflecting on her own summers at camp, Sarah's favorite memory is one experienced by thousands of others during Interlochen's 85 years of history: the poignancy of Les Preludes at the end of camp. "It's a great send-off," Sarah says, remembering that final night in the Bowl. Through her planned gift, she hopes to make that experience, and all the opportunities that Interlochen has to offer, possible for other students for years to come.
From the Aloha State to the Land of the Stately Pines, Sarah's legacy in the arts is clear. "The arts make a whole man. They speak to the soul," Sarah says. "The arts are wonderful connectors. They enrich your life."