Victoria Fine Arts Series: B.E. Leissner & LeOlive Rogge
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Mark your calendar:
The JAM Fest will be Saturday, April 14.
B.E. Leissner, 80, owned Victoria Pharmacy, now Roger's Pharmacy, for 30 years. He was invited to join the board by the late Joe Milam in the 1970s.
LeOlive Rogge, 83, became a member of the Victoria Fine Arts Association board in 1978. She had various roles. Rogge was the executive director of the Cultural Council of Victoria.
What are you proudest of?
Rogge: Our artistic opportunities were second to none in a town this size.
Leissner: We've exposed the fine arts to another generation.
What is your most memorable moment?
Rogge: The Vienna Boys Choir coming to Victoria. There were 40 boys who came by bus who were isolated. Everyone was disappointed because they couldn't meet the children. The director asked me to order 45 hamburgers with mustard. I called my friend who owned a restaurant. People would think it's a joke if you called and asked for that.
Leissner: We had a party after an event with an elaborate spread of prime rib. The artists didn't touch the food. They were total vegetarians. We scrounged around to get them some vegetables.
What has been the group's biggest challenge?
Leissner: We had good membership during the glory years. It got to the point where we couldn't afford anybody. You need the population to support your events. We priced ourselves out. With TV and everything going on it was hard to get people to Victoria. There were other arts organizations competing in town for the same money.
How do you feel about the group changing its focus to jazz?
Rogge: It's OK with me. I have a lot to learn. You find passion in Jazz. It was an area that needed addressing.
Leissner: The VFA has identified an activity that is going to sustain them. It's great offering a jazz festival downtown.
What can the group do to be successful for the next 65 years?
Rogge: We need to focus on educating people to the fine arts. We've always tried to have some educational element. We need to continue to identify markets that are attainable and within the scope of our finances. I think we are doing a pretty good job.