A Familiar Face

Marti Farley returns as president of the Pasadena Showcase House 

By Luke Netzley

Through combining her love for the musical arts with her passion for helping others, Pasadena’s Marti Farley has found her dream role as 2021/22 president for the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.

This is her second go-around with the leadership role since joining the all-volunteer, nonprofit organization 24 years ago.

Farley was born and raised in Houston, then moved to San Francisco in her early twenties before eventually settling in Los Angeles, where she raised her three children and still resides today with her husband, John. Farley joined the Showcase House in 1997 after retiring as the budget director for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

“I originally joined the organization because of its music programs, then I fell in love with the house and everything that’s involved with it,” Farley says.

“It’s just so exciting because you go through this learning process having different jobs at the Showcase House. And for this year in particular, it was really important to me to help lead us out of the pandemic and into the new normal.”

The Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts has been supporting local music and arts programs since 1948. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of its team of over 200 members, the organization has raised funds for music education, scholarships, concerts, music therapy, and other life-changing programs.

In addition to her work with the Showcase House, Farley has volunteered her time to Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and Five Acres, where she is a past president of the San Marino Auxiliary and has served on the board of directors. Her personal love for the arts, though, began when she started taking piano lessons at the age of 8, and she’s been passionate about music since. 

“It makes me feel very creative,” Farley says. “There are notes on a piece of papers and notations as to how you should play, and for the most part you try and follow that, but then your soul takes over. When you put your heart and soul into a piece, then it’s magical.”

The Showcase House for the Arts has nurtured the study and appreciation of music among young performers, like Farley when she was a child, through its annual music programs. Those include The Music Mobile, which has introduced orchestral instruments to more than 125,000 third-grade students; the Instrumental Competition, which has awarded more than $650,000 in monetary prizes to young musicians; and the Youth Concert, which has brought nearly 250,000 fourth graders to Walt Disney Concert Hall for performances presented by Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“The performers really get a lot of great input early on in their career,” Farley says.

It was this ability to foster creative talent and personal growth in young musicians that initially drew her to the organization, where she became the benefit chair for the Showcase House of Design in 2009 and president in 2011. Farley has not only been a crucial part of the incredible work that the Showcase House for the Arts continues to do each year but has also made lasting connections while working there. 

“I have made so many friends at the Showcase House, friendships that I’ve had now for 20 years,” she says. “That’s one of the great things about this group is that you end up making lifelong friends and attachments that stay with you.”

The Showcase House for the Arts will celebrate the return of the 2022 Showcase House of Design at Oaklawn Manor this April through late May with Farley at the helm. 

Golden tickets for the 2022 Showcase House of Design are on sale through pasadenashowcase.org.

The event is the organization’s flagship benefit and has helped them give more than $23 million to nonprofits to support the growth of the arts. It’s a mission that Farley has taken to heart since the day she joined.

“My hope for the future is that the organization will continue to grow, thrive, and be able to meet the needs of the diverse community that we live in so that we can provide music and art as equitably as possible.”

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