Thea Foundation’s Blue Plate Special combines the perfect ingredients – chefs, mixologists and local celebrities – for a deliciously fun evening that supports the arts in education.
By Rebekah Hall | Photography by Rett Peek
These are a few of Nick’s favorite things: the Thea Foundation, fabulous food, delicious drinks and live music. He brings these together for Blue Plate Special, a fun evening that celebrates Thea Foundation’s continued commitment to arts in education and encourages guests to become advocates for its power to transform lives.
Nick Leopoulos serves as Thea Foundation Assistant Director – working with teachers, art educators and students throughout the state to develop art programming that’s changing the landscape of education in Arkansas. He recognizes that incorporating arts education into the classroom creates a better environment for students to learn. “A creative atmosphere in a school is one of openness and trustworthiness, and it’s a much better condition,” Nick explains. “It sets the stage for learning at a higher order, and we certainly want to be contributors to that.”
Paul Leopoulos and his wife Linda established the organization after the untimely death of their daughter, Thea Kay, whose exposure to the arts dramatically improved her academics. Nick wants all children to experience the life-changing effects that arts involvement had in his sister’s life. Thea Foundation Marketing Director Stacey Bowers explains that the goal of the foundation is for every child in Arkansas to have what Paul calls the “Thea Experience.” “It’s something that we want every kid in Arkansas to be able to experience, especially to gain confidence for the things they want to be in life,” Stacey emphasizes.
The Blue Plate Special invites guests to mingle with incredible chefs, local celebrities and talented mixologists as they cook and create alongside other artists and musicians. “It’s a wonderful way of getting involved with who we are as an organization, and you’re just going to have the most fun doing it,” Nick explains. “It’s incredible wine, incredible food, and you’re open to some of the best conversations you’re going to have with some of the most vibrant personalities in the city.”
Proceeds from the evening support the Thea Foundation’s arts education programming including Thea’s Art Closet, which provides art supplies and creative materials to Arkansas teachers, and Arts Reconstruction, which helps to augment or generate new arts programming during the school day in school districts across the state. “One thing I’m really proud about this organization for is when we succeed in things like fundraisers or endowments, then we grow those programs,” Stacey notes. “When we see the need, we grow our foundation to accommodate growing those programs.”
Both Nick and Stacey express appreciation for Malvern National Bank, a longtime Blue Plate Special sponsor, and this year’s Event Chairman Ben E. Keith Foods General Manager Rusty Mathis, who played a large role in the Blue Plate Special’s original conception. Nick best sums up the special evening: “It’s a great foot in the door to what our organization is all about – helping bring people together and supporting creative initiatives, getting people talking and expanding their outlook on education in the state.”