Judith Vane chaired Spoleto’s hospitality committee for 26 years. Festival general director Nigel Redden once boasted of attending 45 parties in one season. “I never found it hard. People like to be involved,” Judith says. Sometimes she’d call people she didn’t even know and ask them to host lavish affairs. “It must take a lot of nerve to call someone you’ve never met and ask them to host a party for 200 people,” one told her before she agreed. In the early days of the festival the gatherings were listed in the newspaper. Once an entire busload of tourists crashed the party and ate all the hors d’oeurves. Judith had to run home and get more cheese! Driven by insatiable curiosity and humor, Judith says she has derived innumerable benefits from the festival. “I can’t tell you how much Spoleto has brought to my life…people I never would have known.” Art by Cletus Johnson adorns her historic home, theatrical director Jack Garfein has become a personal friend and she continues to stay in touch with many of the performers she’s hosted over the years.
Sharon Bowers’ family has shared their home with many Spoleto performers, some staying up to six weeks while rehearsing. “You really get to know these people. It makes for some wildly interesting conversations while we’re peeling potatoes together.” Her intention to introduce her children to other cultures has really paid off. They have become more open minded and are comfortable everywhere. But the lasting friendships have been the best part, most notably with opera star Benedicte Jourdois. “Nobody is more fun at a party than Benedicte,” she says. “It’s also quite thrilling to attend the Metropolitan Opera in New York and know the performers personally.”