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Remembering Boston Ballet pioneer & Arts champion

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A dear friend of the early days of Boston Ballet has passed on. She was a champion for Arts and the Arts Lottery on MA. I worked for Jackie at The Arts Lottery council. I dance at Boston Ballet during the years she was on the board. As she said in an interview in 1981 "The Boston Ballet was fun, like a family". It was true. She was like part of my family and she will be missed.


Jacqueline (Desprez) O'Reilly was a self-described stage mother at the Boston Ballet who championed public funding for the arts.

''She was extremely dedicated to the cause," Walter ''Sandy" Fraze Jr., a board member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, said yesterday of Mrs. O'Reilly, who died of cancer Sunday in Epoch Senior Health Care in Norton. ''She showed us what one committed citizen could accomplish."

Mrs. O'Reilly, 79, choreographed the creation of the former Massachusetts Arts Lottery as a way to channel money to arts organizations in the state.

''She almost single-handedly convinced the Legislature to approve one of the great populist ideas of all times, a lottery to fund the arts," Fraze said. . . .

One of the original trustees of the Boston Ballet, Mrs. O'Reilly first thought of the lottery in the summer of 1971, while she was enrolled at an arts administration course at Harvard taught by James Hagler. Hagler had discussed the success of the arts lottery in Australia that financed the Sydney Opera House.

The following year, Mrs. O'Reilly prevailed upon state Representative Michael Paul Feeney a Hyde Park Democrat, to file a bill to explore ways to finance art organizations. As the commission's unsalaried chairwoman, Mrs. O'Reilly began lobbying other legislators and attended fund-raisers for countless politicians.

In 1979, when legislation passed creating the arts lottery, Mrs. O'Reilly was named chairwoman of the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council by Governor Edward King. In the post, she oversaw the disbursement of funds to about 300 local arts councils throughout the state.

(I was not sure if the link woul work. Please delete article if inappropriately posted.)


[b1, I have edited your post to reduce the amount of the article that is quoted. We are prohibited by copyright laws from repoducing article in their entirety. There's enough above to give readers a taste of what the article says, and the link enables them to read the whole article. Ari]

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