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Cultural alliance honors Busboys and Poets owner

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington (CAGW) honors Andy Shallal. Shallal talks with William White (left) during an event at the Woolly Mammouth Theatre.
The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington (CAGW) honors Andy Shallal. Shallal talks with William White (left) during an event at the Woolly Mammouth Theatre. (Evy Mages - For The Washington Post)

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By Vanessa Mizell
Monday, May 17, 2010

Businesspeople and arts supporters mingled amid West African drum beats and a hula hoop dancer at the recent Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington's Arts Biz Ball at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Northwest Washington.

A membership organization that supports the local arts community, the alliance recognized as its arts and business partner of the year Andy Shallal, proprietor of the Busboys and Poets restaurants, which attract many young professionals, social activists and artists.

"He just gets it," said Jennifer Cover Payne, president of the alliance. "In a down economy, the arts community wouldn't survive without people ... like him."

Shallal accepted the award after a recitation of "Hold Fast to Dreams" by Harlem renaissance poet Langston Hughes; Busboys and Poets derives its name from Hughes, who worked as a busboy in the 1930s.

"Washington is struggling with an identity," said Shallal. "It's coming into its own, and I believe that the arts is a way to find its identity."

The 100 guests dined on duck, Thai chicken, rosemary lamb chops and pastries and listened to jazz played by the Herb Scott Trio. Guests included international ballerina Susan Jaffe; Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet; Kathy Dwyer Southern, chief executive of the National Children's Museum; David J. Robertson, executive director of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments; and David Mann, the alliance's chairman.

The organization raised $60,000 through ticket sales and corporate sponsors such as Altria, KPMG, the Marriott Foundation, American Express, Calvert Group, Fort Lincoln New Town Corp., law firm Nixon Peabody and radio station WPFW (89.3 FM).

The money will go to support the organization's programs, such as Ticketplace, CultureCapital.com, professional development programs and an initiative that matches business volunteers with an arts organization.


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