Entrepreneur of the Arts

Entrepreneur of the ArtsEllis Finger helped make Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts a multimedia mecca. Over 31 years the building’s only director presented everything from a hip-hop Romeo and Juliet to a Nosferatu set in yuppie-plagued, AIDS-spooked Manhattan. Aided by college colleagues, he developed a repertory company of jazz allstars and a global laboratory for Orpheus, the conductor-less orchestra, that’s lasted 27 years. He was an educational entrepreneur, a visionary impresario, a scholarly fan.

Finger, who retired in June, was saluted by the College at the annual faculty and administrator awards dinner May 23 for “a career performed con brio.”

The former German teacher and development officer was honored again May 28, when the Lehigh Valley Arts Council thanked him for running the area’s first true arts center and for improving the area’s cultural life.

In an interview on the College website, conducted by Geoff Gehman ’80, Finger said, “We’ve made Lafayette a platform for championing an artist’s career from an early period. We’ve influenced artistic choices by colleagues at performing-arts centers across the country. We’ve resonated.”

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