Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Banner Bank, Craig plays piano himself—he took lessons until the age of 13, stopped for 45 years and then started again a few years ago. Though he tries to practice every day, he considers himself now and forever to be a beginning pianist. “Everything I play is played much better by 10-year-olds on YouTube,” he says.
But he says his own earnestly acquired knowledge of piano makes the experience of being an audience member all that much more meaningful. “When you play an instrument even at a rudimentary level, your appreciation of great performances moves from mere fandom to awe. You watch and listen to a great pianist on the stage and you get a sense of how unbelievable this event is that you’re watching.’”
Though he’s been a faithful patron and donor of Meany Center for decades, Craig’s deeper involvement with Meany was on a more accelerated schedule. What began with a simple thank you phone call from Philanthropy Director Cristi Benefield in 2016 has culminated in Craig stepping into the Board Presidency for the 2018-19 season. “I’m thrilled to be the president of the board for the upcoming season,” he says. “It’s an honor, taking the wheel of a ship that’s moving so nicely forward. The season looks fantastic!”
Last season, Craig attended 17 or 18 performances. This year he has subscriptions to all four series and the special event performance of the Taiwan Philharmonic. “Short of being out of town or hit by the proverbial bus, I plan to be at every show,” he says.
He also loves attending piano master classes, and sees arts education outreach both on campus and in the public schools as an extra gift from Meany to the community—one that Banner Bank has generously supported for the past three years. Part of his vision for the coming year on the Advisory Board is to increase connections to the wider community including K-12 education, and to maximize outreach to the UW undergraduate student population. According to Craig, “anybody who gets a diploma at the end of four years on this campus, really should be coming to Meany to see what’s on offer here.”
Craig believes that the excellent performing arts program that Meany provides is an essential part of the life of a great research university like UW. “Meany Center is to the arts what Husky Stadium is to football,” Craig says. “We are the flagship. If you look at the artists we’re presenting this year—and every year—we’re in the top echelon of major university presenters. If there were a Rose Bowl for performing arts, we’d be in it.”
Look for Craig the next time you attend an event at Meany—barring that bus, he’ll probably be here.
Craig Miller doesn’t claim to have attended the very first Season we presented the President’s Piano series (that would have been in 1981-82), but there hasn’t been a season since when he didn’t attend at least a couple of performances. “I adore—really adore—the President’s Piano Series,” he says.