Carolyn and Marc Seriff have been tremendous supporters of the Austin Classical Guitar Society.  They are Presenting Sponsors of Austin Pictures.  We first met surrounding our multi-award-winning 2010 presentation of the GFA International Convention we called “Austin Goes Classical”, which they also sponsored.

Events in the arts like that simply do not happen without generous sponsors like Carolyn and Marc, and so I asked Marc a few questions recently to learn a bit more about these wonderful civic-minded arts patrons.

Matthew Hinsley: Tell me about you and Carolyn?

Marc Seriff: Carolyn grew up on an Indiana farm while I was actually born and raised in Austin.  We met when we both worked for a company called Telenet – one of the pioneers of commercial data communications.  Carolyn remained at Telenet until her retirement, while I went on to do several DC-area startups ending up as the founding CTO of AOL.  We were married in 1989 and retired to Texas in 1996.  We’ve got two sons – Dan and Jason – both of whom now live in Austin.  Jason is married to Elizabeth and has a beautiful 3 year-old daughter.  We spend most of our time at our home in Horseshoe Bay, although we now spend 2 or 3 days a week at our condo in downtown Austin.  We spend a lot of time attending the performing arts and I’m a huge Longhorn sports fan – especially basketball.

MH: Why do you feel it’s important to give back to our community?

MS: We’ve been incredibly lucky in our lives and do have some belief that giving back is important.  In a few instances, that’s the driving force behind our giving but, frankly, in most of the cases, we give because we’re passionate about the causes and organizations that we give too.  There’s an amazing feeling when you’re able to help solve a problem or create some new solution or work of art.  Neither of us is particularly artistic or creative ourselves so this becomes a way we can be part of the process.

MH: You have been tremendous supporters of ACGS.  We first met when you generously sponsored “Austin Goes Classical”.  Why are you supporting Austin Pictures?

MS: Multiple answers to this one.  The obvious answer is to provide support to some beautiful music.  Beyond that, frankly, we’re really supporting ACGS, rather than just Austin Pictures and there are three great reasons for that.  First, collaboration between non-profit organizations is one of our hot-buttons and, first with last year’s conference and now with Austin Pictures, nobody is doing a better job of that in Austin than ACGS.  Second, we’re both big believers in the importance of the arts as part of the educational experience.  It’s pretty stunning the success that ACGS has had locally with AISD and internationally with the curriculum project.  Finally, we both love Austin and ACGS has, in its field, made Austin an international focal point for classical guitar.

MH: What other arts organizations or causes are you passionate about?

MS: When we first got back to Texas, we were both extremely active in non-profits in the Marble Falls area.  Carolyn chaired the board of the Family Crisis Center and we both served as board members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes.  For about a decade, we ran a small foundation in Marble Falls that assisted area non-profits and created some new organizations like the Family Services Center, the Highland Lakes Health Partnership and the Legacy Fund.

Now, we’re both active in the arts.  Carolyn, next month, will join the board of Zach Scott Theatre.  I serve on the Long Center board and executive committee and the advisory board for UT’s Department of Theater and Dance.  We also both believe in creating sustainability for non-profits and, for that reason, I serve on the board of Austin Community Foundation and Carolyn, on the Legacy Fund board, a hill-country branch of ACF.

MH: We cannot thank you both enough, Marc.  Community-based project like Austin Pictures simply wouldn’t be possible with folks like you in the community.  See you there!