Donor Spotlight: Kathy and Bert Moberg
Kathy and Bert Moberg have spent a lifetime developing their passion for the performing arts — especially theater. After decades of attending UMS performances and supporting UMS’s mission as loyal annual donors, Bert (B.G.S., ’76, L.S.A.) and Kathy (B.A., ’79, L.S.A.) decided that they wanted to help make a lasting and meaningful impact on UMS’s theater programming efforts by making a significant gift to establish the UMS Theater Endowment Fund.
In the following interview, we talked with Bert and Kathy about their passion for the arts and UMS, what inspired them to increase their giving to establish this endowment fund, and their hopes for others to join them!
Tell us a little about your background with the arts.
We both grew up in homes that valued the arts and literature. We each took music lessons, attended occasional concerts and plays, visited museums, and were voracious readers. Our interest in the performing arts has been a work in progress, increasing over the years. This shared interest even led to the choice for our honeymoon location, Stratford, Ontario!
When and how did you first become involved with UMS?
We attended a few UMS performances when we were dating, notably Handel’s Messiah and Zubin Mehta with the Israel Philharmonic. Live performances fell off our radar for a number of years when we were first married and our children were young. Then, when our eldest son, Eric (BA ’05) was about 13 or 14, he happened to pick up a UMS flyer that arrived in the day’s mail, looked it over, and asked, “Why don’t we ever go to any of these events?” We simply had never thought of it, so Bert and Eric picked out a couple shows to see together and enjoyed them. Sean (BA ’08) and Kelsey (BA ’10 from EMU) didn’t want to be left out, so the next year, we bought a few tickets for the 5 of us and it snowballed from there.
Do you have favorite or most memorable performance memories?
We’ve seen so many wonderful UMS performances over the years, it is impossible to pick just one or two. If we stick strictly to theater experiences, the Royal Shakespeare residencies in the early 2000s really stand out. That is when we began ordering season tickets for our family. The Gate Theatre’s Waiting for Godot in 2000 remains fresh in my mind, as does the Globe Theatre’s Twelfth Night in 2004 where the audience watched the male actors transform themselves into female characters on stage before the play actually began. That was astonishingly moving.
A Christmas Carol performed by the National Theatre of Scotland in December 2015 was extraordinary! It’s also memorable because we were able to attend it with all 3 of our adult children. When we bought the tickets, we thought it would be a fun afternoon out over the holidays, never expecting it to be such a magical, immersive experience. The kids still talk about it, too!
One of our very first theater experiences, back when we were dating in the mid-1970s, was Michael Redgrave’s Shakespeare’s People, a one-man show in Power Center where he performed selections from The Bard’s plays. I remember being thrilled to have the opportunity to see such a legendary actor live and felt grateful that being a student at U-M made it possible.
I love seeing so many students and young people in UMS audiences now — we are all part of a continuum.
What inspired you to establish the UMS Theater Endowment Fund? How do you envision/hope this fund will impact UMS now and into the future?
We love live performances, and theater is a particular passion for us. We appreciate the experience of sharing auditorium space with the actors on stage and the diverse audience around us. The university setting we have in Ann Arbor is a perfect venue for creativity within traditional theater and we are excited to have found a way we can channel our resources to make an impact. We envision this endowment assisting UMS in researching and bringing world-class traditional theater productions to our community. So much is involved, from travel to discussions with companies, to lining up financing, to arranging for visas… it all takes time, expertise, and money. We hope this endowment can be a catalyst for the larger undertaking of presenting plays that attendees will discuss, ponder, and remember for years.
Our goal is for this endowment to grow as practical way to assist UMS in enhancing its traditional theater offerings. We chose a broad, general name for this fund to make it clear that we would be delighted if fellow theater supporters participated with a contribution to the endowment fund at any level.
What advice would you have for someone who is exploring UMS performances for the first time (or even someone who has been a patron for years)?
Be open to new experiences! In addition to attending the many UMS events we know we will love each year, we always purchase tickets to some shows that sound unfamiliar to us. We have learned a lot by doing this and have added many artists, companies, and even some new categories to our list of favorites. We reliably leave the venue having had a fresh, interesting, thought-provoking experience. How lucky we are to have these opportunities!
If you wish to contribute to the UMS Theater Endowment Fund, we welcome your support! Please call the UMS Development Office at 734.764.8489. Every gift makes a difference and will ensure that traditional theater remains a part of UMS now and for future generations to come.