How One Blind Date and Art Transformed the Life of Walter Elcock, 2017 TACA Silver Cup Award Recipient

When TACA (The Arts Community Alliance) honored Walter Elcock at the Silver Cup Award Luncheon on March 7, the organization should also have credited Elcock’s wife, Laura, for instigating his love and support of the arts.

Elcock was a college student when he went on a blind date with an art major.

Determined to keep that connection going, he changed his major to study art. He won the art major’s heart, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Studio Art from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and began to understand how art can quickly transform life.

“The first thing it did was get from being single to being married and having a family. It has transformed my entire life and it’s something Laura and I have been interested in our whole lives. It’s at the center,” Elcock said.

Elcock became a director of a small art museum, but when his family expanded, he transitioned to a career in banking. Elcock was the President of Bank of America Texas and the Banking Center Channel executive for Bank of America. He also led Operational Risk and Merger Integration activities for the Bank.

Because of his leadership and influence, Bank of America became a consistent supporter of arts organizations, including the Dallas Museum of Art, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts and the Nasher Sculpture Center. He retired from Bank of America after 39 years.

Elcock argues the arts help businesses attract and develop a stronger, more civically engaged workforce.

“It is generally true that the sharpest people want to live in a community where they have a lot of exciting opportunities to enjoy their lives, not just their work. They know they are going to put in the hours and the energy at work and when they have time off, they want something fun and exciting and stimulating to do and that’s what our arts organizations can provide,” Elcock said.

During his career, he watched Dallas and its arts community blossom into a formidable creative force.

“The arts really represent Dallas. If you were going to talk to anyone about characteristics of Dallas, it’s that when people have dreams and visions here, they actually believe they can realize them. They actually believe they can build it. They don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I think the arts in Dallas is a very mutual relationship where Dallas has supported and helped form the arts and the arts have now changed the character of Dallas. The arts have enabled Dallas to change its image to much of the world,” Elcock said.

Elcock and his wife have made supporting the arts a priority in their lives, no matter their income. Dallas has notable supporters whose generosity can seem overwhelming, but Elcock encourages everyone to consider how they can offer support an appreciated organization.

“Every arts organization appreciates a member, they appreciate selling a ticket and they appreciate people coming. The biggest challenge to philanthropy in Dallas is to let people know they can define that for themselves within their means and within their preferences and they can be valued for it,” Elcock said.

Elcock recognizes cultivating support for the arts and engaging a new generation of supporters and artists is important to the continued growth of Dallas’ arts community.

“My suggestion to organizations is that if you want to know what new audiences are going to be inspired by and what is going to cause them to be generous with you and to support you is to hire some of those people to work in your organization and let them lead the thinking,” Elcock said.

Elcock is a Trustee of the Dallas Museum of Art, but he most recently served as the museum’s Chair, President and Interim Director for eleven months.

“I was over my head in almost every way, filling in at the DMA,” Elcock admits. The assignment further transformed his appreciation for the Dallas arts community.

“It’s not about the buildings. It’s about what happens inside the buildings. It’s about the people who come to work every day, whether they are building a set or building a wall, or painting a gallery or hanging the show. All of those things have to come together. It’s the beauty of the rehearsals and the beauty of all those things going on behind the scenes and the encouragement of the people when they’re doing it. Then it works and they feel great about it. And at that point, they’re ready to take on an even bigger challenge,” Elcock said.

Elcock will share the honor of the 2017 TACA Silver Cup Award with Nancy A. Nasher, the President and Owner of NorthPark Center. Learn more about the luncheon at www.taca-arts.org.

Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.

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