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Patron Sings Praises of PAC

Patron of the arts is a term that truly applies to Deborah Simon, who calls The Performing Arts Center at SUNY-Purchase her favorite venue. That's where the Greenwich resident has enjoyed music and theater for more than three decades.

"I've been going there since I moved to the area from Los Angeles in 1977," she said. "I love having it virtually in my backyard – I don't have to worry about parking in the city, I can be home in 10 minutes, and they offer so much," Simon said. "I grew up near a university so I've always enjoyed the artistic offerings it provides.

"Some people might think that students can't be very good musicians, dancers or actors, but they're excellent," she said of the student offerings that supplement the professional shows.

Besides singing The Center's praises and spreading news of its shows, Simon has helped with its funding, co-chairing the recent "From Russia With Love" gala. The benefit concert, which featured Russian conductor Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra, raised nearly $200,000 to support The Center's 2011-12 season, which will be its 34th.

"We started planning for it during the summer, and everything worked out perfectly," said Simon. "The decorations, the food, and of course, the music. There was quite a 'wow' factor."

Buoyed by that success, another benefit gala is in the works for spring. In the meantime, Simon will continue to spread the word about The Center to anyone who loves the arts. "It's kind of a secret that not many people know about, but they should," she said.

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