As we kick-off the new Performing Arts Fund Campaign, we are so grateful for the loyal support of our new Co-Chairs.

Dave and Carol GiesekeCarole and Dave Gieseke’s relationship with Stephens Auditorium began when they left Maryville, Missouri for Ames in 1997. Originally from the Kansas City area, they met in school at Northwest Missouri State University and lived there another 15 years before moving to Iowa.

One of the earliest professional shows Carole remembers attending with Dave was in the early 1980s – a touring production of Annie, adding that she wasn’t much interested theatre before that; rock concerts were more her taste. When asked about an artist they would love to see come to Stephens, they named Andrea Bocelli, who Carole was lucky enough to hear for the first time in Italy.

Carole loves the big Broadway musicals for the combination of great music, strong characters, big sets, intriguing storylines, and powerhouse performances. She said, “Musicals are like the Super Bowl of the theatre world. Dave and I have paid hundreds of dollars (dare I say “thousands”?) to experience the best Broadway musicals over the years and our kids are both “musical junkies” like we are.” Some of their favorites include Miss Saigon, Next to Normal, Wicked, Les Miserables, RENT, and Spring Awakening – several of which have played at Stephens.

“We love attending shows at Stephens Auditorium. It’s a gorgeous venue, and it’s just the right size. We think it is the best place in the state of Iowa to see a show. Music, theatre, and dance are expensive. The cost of a ticket doesn’t even begin to cover it. We would not have the selection and quality of shows in Ames without financial support from many, many individual arts patrons. Dave and I don’t give a huge amount, but we believe that each personal donation helps support the arts.”

Carole and Dave Gieske

Jim BeckwithJim Beckwith is an Ames native who returned to town 12 years ago after living all over Iowa. He has been a loyal attendee at Stephens Auditorium since the early 1970s.

Some past performance highlights for Jim are the jazz greats who came to Ames, including Doc Severinson, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Hirt and other stars of the genre. Topping his list was the phenomenal trumpet player, Maynard Ferguson, who made three memorable appearances at Stephens and used his amazing showmanship to help popularize Big Band Jazz, Jim noted. He has also enjoyed many classical music concerts presented by the international orchestras visiting Ames.

If we could wave a magic programming wand, Jim said he would enjoy hearing more orchestras. Included in Jim’s recent favorites are the Capetown Philharmonic and great instrumental groups like The Montreal Guitar Trio, the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Boston Brass.

“Stephens is the only place in central Iowa that consistently gets great nationally touring orchestra groups, and the acoustics are the best anywhere for non-amplified music!”

Jim Beckwith

Jim is also a fan of musicals, and he appreciated the music of Leonard Bernstein in this year’s West Side Story, and shares the Giesekes’ opinion that Spring Awakening and RENT were wonderful shows.

“The arts have played such an important role in my life and I am just trying to give back a little so others can enjoy them, too. It is important to keep an affordable, local arts scene alive to make Ames a great place to live and do business.”

Jim Beckwith

The Performing Arts Fund at Stephens Auditorium helps to underwrite rising talent fees and keep tickets affordable. This support is vital because ticket revenue provides only 65% of the cost of presenting performances.