Photo from The Society's 2013 Annual General Meeting, inaugurating new President, Bob Titley and his fellow board members followed by a reception and dinner with entertainment from Jim Dale, MBE.
Jim Dale is an accomplished man of many talents. Throughout his career, Dale has won a Tony for "Best Actor" in the Broadway musical, “Barnum,” five Tony Nominations, four Drama Desk Awards, four New York Critics Awards and a BAFTA Nomination for “Best Newcomer.” The versatile artist was also nominated for an Academy Award for writing the lyrics for the film title song, “Georgy Girl.”
As a narrator, Dale has won a record ten Audie Awards, the Oscars of the narrating world. He recorded all seven audio books in the Harry Potter series, winning two Grammy Awards and seven Grammy Nominations including, “Narrator of the Year 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008,” and “Audio Book of the Year 2004.”
If that weren't enough, the entertainer also holds two Guinness World Records. One for creating 146 different character voices for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and another for occupying the first six places in the “Top Ten Audio Books of America and Canada.”
In recent months, Dale has been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame, and the American Audio Hall of Fame as well as honored by Queen Elizabeth II with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).
St. George’s Society of New York was founded to assist those born under the British flag who found themselves in desperate straits in New York. In recent years, the Society has extended its reach to include people of Commonwealth descent and over the years St. George’s has helped thousands of needy persons in the New York area.
Members are indispensable to the success and growth of St. George’s Society and there are many benefits of joining. With approximately 800 members, the Society provides an influential network to expatriates and anglophiles and hosts several events each month.
GEORGE is the Society’s sub-brand for vibrant, dynamic professionals that hosts regular social and networking opportunities. All GEORGE events support the charitable mission of St. George’s Society and its biggest fundraiser is known as ‘The Bash’ featuring live entertainment, dinner, dancing and a British-themed auction.
Interview Conducted Via Email By: Giacinta Pace
Q: What is the St. George's Society of New York and how long have you been involved?
Jim: One of the oldest charitable organizations in New York, St. George’s Society (named after the patron saint of England) was founded by Englishmen living in New York in 1770 to celebrate St. George’s Day and to assist fellow countrymen in need or distress. At first membership was restricted to natives of England but over time as the world has changed enormously, the Society has adapted. Membership is now open to people of all origins but that usually have some affinity to Britain. It provides stipends and emergency grants to needy people from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth living in the New York area. While the assistance St. George’s Society provides has changed over time, the purpose has remained the same – to help those who cannot help themselves. Since its founding 242 years ago, it has aided thousands of British and Commonwealth persons. I have been involved in St. George’s for the past ten years.
Q: How did you get involved with this group?
Jim: As an actor, my one day off each week is Monday when all New York theatres are closed. Most charitable organizations plan their fund raising events based on this, knowing that they have an abundance of actors they can approach to support their various charities. Over the years I have spent more Monday evenings as host at these various functions than I have as a couch potato at home. One day I was asked by John Shannon of St. Georges to join them one Monday evening and help promote London theatre as many in the audience intended to visit the British Isles that Spring. Afterwards we sat around and thought up a monthly Monday evening for the St. George members. It would be called the Arts Initiative Evening. We would hire a room large enough for a hundred or so ticket buyers, have a bar, and invite visiting British artists from the theatre world to promote a short excerpt from their work, or song from their concert. This was something I had been focused on for the past twenty years - promoting British plays / actors / writers / directors / musicians – anything British! Now I had the chance to be a genial host and not only promote them but interview them, introduce them to New Yorkers, and most important, try out comedy material for a future one man show I had in mind. The evenings were a tremendous success and the monthly Arts Initiative events lasted five years.
Q: Why is it important for celebrities to support charities?
Jim: I do think it most important for celebrities to become involved in certain charitable events. Their mere name can bring along their ardent admirers, resulting in those admirers hearing about and possibly wishing to join that particular charity. Most actors are not in a financial position to buy a table for ten at an event, but merely having their names on the flyers / programs and just being there will be their invaluable contribution.