TPAC Gala Honors John Ferguson on August 25

The opening of the upcoming season at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), and the distinguished contributions of John Ferguson to the arts, will be celebrated on Saturday, August 25, 2012 at TPAC’s annual gala. Inspired by the hit movie and Broadway show Catch Me If You Can, this year’s benefit for the arts center’s educational and cultural programs will feature a stylish 1960s atmosphere. Guests are invited to get on board with Pan American World Airlines, travelling back to the golden era of flight when the term “jet set” was coined and national culture was on the cusp of dramatic change.

The gala begins with cocktails and a silent auction at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby of Andrew Jackson Hall, followed by dinner on the stage and entertainment by Broadway star Aaron Tveit who originated the leading role in Catch Me If You Can, starred in Wicked and Next to Normal, and recently completed a featured role in the upcoming film Les Miserables.

Co-Chairs for the event are Theresa Menefee, Bob Deal and Jason Bradshaw, teaming with Janet and Earl Bentz, Patron Committee Chairs; Julie Boehm, Reservation Chair; and Laura Allen, Auction Chair.

“Inspired by the playful fun of Catch Me If You Can, our chairs have taken off, transporting guests to the time setting of the show, 1963 to 1968. We don’t want to spoil any of the surprises – a trademark of our gala – but I can say that the heyday of Pan American World Airlines influenced the stunning design for this event. Guests will love the vintage look and feel,” said Kathleen O’Brien, TPAC’s president and chief executive officer.

“And what would a party inspired by this time period be without some high fashion from the 1960s? We’re encouraging guests to dress in 1960s cocktail or evening wear, from the signature elegance and simplicity early in the decade to the more adventurous directions in fashion after 1964, the year the Beatles debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show,” said O’Brien. “All of our guests will be on the best-dressed list, of course, but you can imagine the fun some of our patrons will have when they go all-out to recreate a 1960s look.”

John Ferguson’s service to the community has been as rich and varied as a successful career that has spanned finance, entrepreneurial ventures, corporate turnarounds and government experience.  In addition to his personal giving with his wife Carole, he helped facilitate corporate gifts to TPAC Education’s curriculum-based programs and other non-profit organizations.

“John is widely admired and respected for his level of community involvement in Nashville and Tennessee. His generosity, leadership, and commitment – personally and professionally – have had a profound positive impact on the growth and vitality of the performing arts.  At TPAC, for instance, his support has meant that tens of thousands of school children took part in our education program at no cost to them,” said O’Brien.

Leading sponsors of the Gala include Corrections Corporation of America, American Airlines, HCA/TriStar Health, IronHorse Farms, and Nissan North America; with additional sponsor support from, Adams & Reese, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Classic Party Rentals, Delek US Holding, Delta Dental of Tennessee, Grand Avenue, Raymond James, and Vanderbilt University.

Playing TPAC January 22-27, Catch Me If You Can is a suspense-filled musical comedy based on the Dreamworks film about Frank Abagnale, a world-class con artist who successfully impersonated a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer—all before the age of 21.

For more information on the event, call (615) 782-4025 or visit

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center administers one of the most comprehensive, curriculum-based arts-in-education programs in the United States, offering a variety of learning opportunities for children and adults. Bringing students to TPAC for performances, providing teachers with resources, and sending artists to schools, TPAC Education has served more than 1.5 million students from pre-school to high school over the past 27 years. The five distinct programs of TPAC Education are ArtSmart, Disney Musicals in Schools, Humanities Outreach in Tennessee, TPAC InsideOut, and Wolf Trap Early Learning through the Arts. 

An active member of Nashville's business and civic community, John Ferguson presently serves on the boards of Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Alliance for Public Education, and Middle Tennessee Council Boy Scouts of America. He recently rolled off the Nashville Symphony board. In 2005 he was campaign chair for United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and as the 2005 and 2006 co-chair of the Boy Scouts of Middle Tennessee Annual Patron Luncheon. He participated in the 2003/04 class of Leadership Nashville.


As a TPAC Board Member, John served two consecutive terms from 2004 to 2010. During his time on the TPAC Board, his leadership roles included: Executive Committee, Personnel & Finance Committee Vice-Chair, Institutional Advancement Committee Chair and Planning Committee Chair. From 2000 to 2008, John was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a leader in corporate giving to community-based initiatives. He continues to serve as the Chairman of the Board for that organization.  Prior to joining CCA, he served as the Commissioner of Finance and Administration for the State of Tennessee, following extensive experience in finance, entrepreneurial ventures, and corporate management. Additionally, with his wife Carole, John has made generous personal donations to TPAC’s arts and education programs. He and his wife, the former Carole Smalley of Bay Springs, Miss., reside in Nashville. They have three children: Amy Pipes of Mobile, Ala.; Ashley Waltemath of San Francisco; and Julie Trapp of Florence, Alabama.

Aaron Tveit currently is filming Les Miserables, playing Enjolras, the charismatic leader of the student group dedicated to democratic freedom and political change in France. His work in television includes a recurring role in Gossip Girl and appearances on The Good Wife, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Body of Proof, andUgly Betty, among others.  He has received numerous honors for his work in theatre including the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Performance in Next to Normal.

Nominations include Distinguished Performance from the Drama League; Best Male Dancer from the Fred and Adel Astaire Awards; and Outstanding Featured Actor from the Outer Critics Circle Awards, all for his work in Catch Me If You Can. In addition to Wicked on Broadway, he starred in the national tours of Hairspray and Rent, reprising his role in the latter for the Hollywood Bowl production directed by Neil Patrick Harris.