Sarah and Dr. Ernest Butler

Champion Awardees

Sarah and Dr. Ernest Butler

Through their involvement and philanthropy dedicated to the arts and sciences, Sarah and Ernest Butler are one of the most generous couples in Austin. Mrs. Butler, a retired educator, and Dr. Butler, a retired otolaryngologist and founder of the Austin Ear Nose and Throat Clinic, are native Texans and attended Baylor University. They moved to Austin in 1969 and quickly became involved in many arts organizations. Throughout the years, they have not only become generous donors, but have also contributed their time and leadership skills as board and committee members. Mrs. Butler is the current Chair of the Board of Directors of Ballet Austin and the chair of the Ballet Austin Foundation. 

Through the Butler Family Fund, established in 1997, the Butlers have supported some of Austin’s largest arts programs and venues including Ballet Austin’s Butler Dance Education Center and the Butler Center for Dance & Fitness, The Butler School of Music and The Butler Opera Center at The University of Texas at Austin, Focus Gallery at The Blanton Museum of Art, The Long Center for the Performing Arts, and the Austin Opera. 

Additionally, their Family Fund has endowed Ballet Austin’s Artistic Director, the Academy, Night of Community, Ballet Austin II and most recently, they fully endowed for life 15 full scholarships to create the Butler Fellowship Program that funds the final and crucial year of intensive training for young people 18-20 years old seeking careers as professional dancers. Of all of the awards and accolades bestowed upon the Butlers, perhaps the most unique was in 2010 when a newly discovered Jurassic period dinosaur was named after Mrs. Butler – the Sarahsaurus - in appreciation of the Butlers’ generous support and fundraising efforts for the Dino Pit. 

Dr. and Mrs. Butler’s contributions to arts organizations have not only allowed Austin to increase the number of exceptional spaces designed for performance, rehearsal or exhibition, but also, through their consistent and unfailing support, for Austinites to continue to enjoy arts, culture, and creativity. Their passion and philanthropy continue to help shape and sustain the arts in Austin.