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Spark Spotlight: Patrick Fagan, Lifetime Achievement

The Spark Awards celebrate and recognize outstanding individuals and organizations from across the Western New York arts community for their dedication, talent, and impact on the arts and cultural sector. This year’s presentation will be streamed for free on our YouTube page on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 7:00 pm.

Click here to learn more about the Spark Awards.

Patrick Fagan is a well-respected leader in the arts and entertainment field. As president of Shea’s Performing Arts Center, he successfully led the growth and renaissance of this venerable institution, transforming it into one of the premier stops on the Broadway touring circuit. During his tenure, Shea’s was converted from a rental house into a nationally recognized presenting arts center, drawing 300,000 patrons in his last season, 2001/02.

The centerpiece of his 16-year tenure was the construction of a $15 million state-of-the- art stagehouse that was completed in April 1999. It was dedicated with a successful four-week engagement of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

He was on the faculties of The University at Buffalo, Trocaire College, and Erie Community College serving as an adjunct professor. He lectured on business management, theatre management, history, and arts administration. He also provided consulting services to several organizations. Patrick has been honored many times for his contributions to the arts community in Buffalo Niagara, including a special lifetime achievement award from the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County.

Patrick was the theatre reviewer for WKBW, Channel 7, from 1992-1999. He was a member of The Broadway League. He served on several committees and was a Tony voter from 1992-2003.

Patrick holds an MA in Comparative Government from The Catholic University of America and a BSBA from Saint Joseph University (Philadelphia). The former Dunkirk native resides in Williamsville with his wife, soul mate, and best friend, Janice Walek.

Learn more about Patrick!

1. I have always had a love for live theatre. When I relocated to New York City in 1969, I would attend theatre as much as I could given job and travel constraints. There was the “twofer” program where you could buy two seats for the price of one. I was attending live theatre for less than ten dollars a seat. Talk about the good old days. Shea’s gave me the opportunity to get out of finance and administration into management in an industry that I really like.

2. My first love is history and politics. Living in the Washington DC area exposed me to international and national events. When I graduated high school, I was unaware of the many loan and scholarships available for college, so I attended a two-year college and majored in business. I passed the CPA exam in Virginia in 1968 and continued to work in administration and business. I went back to college in 1973 to get my BS and in 1976 moved back to the DC area and three years later got my masters in comparative government. If I could change my life, I would have majored in history and politics, joined the diplomatic corps and traveled all over the world meeting people of different nationalities and enjoying their cultures and cuisines.

3. Today one of my hobbies is reading. I read maybe 12 to 15 books a year. I only read nonfiction concentrating on history and politics. My other hobbies are crossword puzzles (the NYTs in ink, I am bragging to be sure) and cooking although Janice has to help me with cooking because of my Parkinson’s I can’t stand without support for more than 30 seconds. My other hobbies used to be gardening and refinishing old wooden furniture. Since we now live in a senior apartment, I no longer garden nor have the space to refinish furniture. As for cooking, Janice and I made spaghetti carbonara for the first time after watching Stanley Tucci eating it on his show on CNN.

4. Two things that most people who do not know me are not aware: I prefer small theatre productions, not large musicals. Whenever I had the opportunity, I would attend smaller off-Broadway productions. Also, locally some of the best theatre I attend is at the ICTC. The other thing is my name. My mother was full blooded Italian, and my father was only part Irish. I have always considered myself Italian.

5. There are many people I need to thank for helping me at Shea’s. But these three stand out among the group: Mark Hamister chaired the search committee that brought me to Shea’s and was chairman when we began to co-present Broadway which made everything we did at Shea’s possible. Albert Nocciolino who agreed to a 50% partnership which provided the financial basis for the programming model which paved the way for the expansion of the stagehouse and all the restoration. And someone who stuck his neck out and guaranteed the funding for the stagehouse, former mayor Tony Masiello. Tony also provided funding for various other projects such as the computer operated marque.

6. Finally, I need to thank my wife, Janice Walek, whom I met at Shea’s. She was with me through the entire journey at Shea’s and encouraged me to go into teaching when I left.

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