Tony Farrell, Jim Lyke being inducted into United Arts Alliance Hall of Fame

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

JANESVILLE—Anthony "Tony" J. Farrell Sr., Janesville, and Jim Lyke, Milton, will be inducted Friday, April 11, into the United Arts Alliance Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of nearly 40 past honorees who have impacted the arts in the Rock County area since 2001.

They will be honored during a ceremony at the Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St.

Farrell is a musician, a promoter of the arts and a volunteer in the arts community.

Lyke is an author, playwright, actor, director, radio personality and community volunteer.

Each answered questions about their lives and the arts:

Q: How did you get started in the arts?

Farrell: "In third grade, I watched the great drummer's Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich on TV. From that moment, I started drumming on anything I could, using Lincoln Logs as my drum sticks.

Growing up, I had chores that I was paid a meager amount for. I saved every penny I could until I had enough to buy my first real pair of sticks. Being from Evansville, I knew all the older boys that were drummers and coaxed one of them into teaching me the basics of drumming. In fifth grade, I was old enough to join the school band and continued through my senior year.

As a young adult, drumming became a big part of my life. I taught many students, played professionally and continue to play daily for my own enjoyment."

Lyke: "I used to do some cable TV commercials when I worked for Jones Intercable. But I really got started after meeting Edie Baran at a Forward Janesville Business After Five in 1999. She announced they were going to do "A Midnight Summers Dream" at Rotary Botanical Gardens and encouraged me to audition. I did and never dreamed it would lead to this massive involvement I've had in the arts community." 

Q: Why do you volunteer for the arts?

Farrell: "To help educate the community about the arts and the sense of accomplishment it brings. Also to encourage participation and appreciation through the experience all art forms have to offer.

I salute the United Arts Alliance that comprises dedicated people. You do not have to be a performer, artist or actor or live in Rock County to be part of it. You can support it financially by becoming a volunteer or member."

Lyke: "It's a great deal of fun. I see all the excitement and entertainment that other people get out of it, and we need that. There's just too much in the world that brings us all down. The arts do the opposite, and that's why it's important to support it."

Q: What is your best memory of your involvement in the arts?

Farrell: "Had it not been for my involvement and personal connections made with the arts, my most memorable event would never had happened. In 1979 I had the opportunity to attend the Academy Awards. An actor friend of mine who also happened to be one of Walt Disney's personal assistants had a ticket but was unable to attend that year. His misfortune became my fortune.

"I later had the chance to attend the Golden Globes and the Grammy's. I sat back and pinched myself. Me, Tony Farrell from Janesville, Wis., rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names there. It was priceless."

Lyke: "I've got a lot of good memories and have experienced so many enjoyable things. But some of my closest friends are because of my involvement in the arts." 

Q: What arts efforts are you most proud of?

Farrell: "Providing low-cost rentals with free repairs and donating around 300,000 music folders to band and orchestra departments for school-age students in public and private schools for 47 years."

Lyke: "Having my play produced at JPAC. I expected it to be self-satisfying but found the biggest reward to be the opportunities it provided for other people to stretch and grow." 

Q: What arts experiences have you found most interesting?

Farrell: "Through our family company, Voigt Music Centers, I had the privilege of sponsoring numerous school music, special events, clinics, performances and trips, making it possible for students to achieve in academics as well as performance; a practice that continues to this day.

"Due to the support of my family at a very young age and with good instructors that influenced my life, I had the opportunity to play professionally for many years. I continue my musical contribution to my local church, New Life Assembly of God, and to Special Touch Ministry of Waupaca, serving the concerns of people with disabilities."

Lyke: "You're never too old to learn and that you take something away from every experience. There's always something new to be derived from it in some area of improvement or enlightenment from every project you're on.''

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