Rialto Center for the Arts Presents the 2013 Rialto Pioneer Award

April 23,2013

The Rialto's Pioneer Award is given annually to distinguished leaders who have contributed significantly to the health and vitality of the city's arts and cultural communities and/or Georgia State's far-reaching mission as a great university in the heart of a major city. It was named to honor the "pioneering spirit" of the remarkable vision that led to the renovation of the Rialto by Georgia State in the early 1990s.
Dr. Mark P. Becker and Laura L. Voisinet, president and first lady of Georgia State University, are this year's recipients of the Rialto Pioneer Award. The award will be presented at the Rialto’s performance of Tiempo Libre – Salsa Autentica Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 PM.  
Dr. Mark Becker is currently serving as the seventh president of the university after beginning his term on January 1, 2009. Under Becker’s leadership, GSU has overseen the launch of a variety of research initiatives focused on excellence among faculty and students. These initiatives, the cornerstone of which is the university’s strategic plan adopted in 2011, are aimed at positioning GSU as a premier urban research university. Prior to his appointment to GSU, Becker served as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina. He also has held administrative leadership roles at the University of Minnesota, and the University of Michigan and has held academic positions at the University of Washington, the University of Florida and Cornell University.

Ms. Voisinet has served in numerous professional and service positions, including Finance Manager at an independent K-12 Waldorf School in Michigan; spearheading accreditation of two independent schools; working as a counselor at Harvest Hope Food Bank in South Carolina; and serving on the Financial Assessment Committee for Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina. In September 2012, Ms. Voisinet launched the GSU Women’s Philanthropy Initiative with a committed group of GSU women leaders and friends to encourage giving and scholarship funds. Passionate about education and the arts, she serves on the boards of the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University, the university’s Library Ambassador Board and the Theatrical Outfit Board. In addition to serving tirelessly as Georgia State’s chief ambassador, Ms. Voisinet is active in the community, serving on the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and volunteering for a number of non-profit organizations. Dr. Becker and Ms. Voisinet have two grown children, Matthew, 26, and Julia, 23.  

Tickets to the performance start at $38 and are available at the Rialto Center’s box office, (404) 413-9TIX (9849) or  Group and Georgia State University student discounts are offered for this show. The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University is located at 80 Forsyth Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia.  Free Parking available for all Rialto Series events.  

The award is named the "Pioneer" since the renovation of the derelict Rialto theater was a pioneering choice for Georgia State.  The restoration served as an anchor for the Fairlie-Poplar district and its renovation turned around the historic area.  The Rialto campaign was the first ever for Georgia State, and raised $14M.  The area now is well-populated both day and night, with the Helen M. Aderhold Learning Center across the street and the addition of the Commons and the Freshman Hall, both Georgia State dormitories.  

Previous Rialto Pioneer Award winners have been Joanne McGhee, founder of Dancers Collective and former adjunct professor of dance at Georgia State University, and a pioneer in her own right as a leader in presenting contemporary dance; Peg and Bill Balzer, downtown residents and noted arts supporters whose name is on the Balzer Theater next door, both alumnae of GSU; Carl and Gretchen Patton, past President of Georgia State University and his wife, who have been tireless supporters of the Rialto and without whom the theater would not be here today; Jo Ann Haden-Miller, Director of Cultural and Heritage Tourism, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau - a phenomenal downtown booster and friend of the arts who has been an unsung heroine of arts and cultural programs throughout her career; Kathy and Ken Bernhardt, who have given years to the arts here in Atlanta, serving tirelessly on boards and advising arts organizations around town; and last year’s recipient was the Honorable Kwanza Hall, Atlanta City Council representative and advocate for the arts and culture.