Home > Latest News > Moving in the Spirit Receives $250,000 Legacy Gift From Estate of Dante Stephensen

Moving in the Spirit is honored to announce a $250,000 legacy gift from the estate of restaurateur and arts lover, Dante Stephensen

Best known for his iconic restaurant and jazz club, Dante’s Down the Hatch, Mr. Stephensen was an avid supporter of education, arts and culture, and youth development in his lifetime. From humble beginnings, his life’s work was grounded in values of integrity, kindness, and helping others succeed. Mr. Stephensen, who passed away on July 25, 2020, had a reputation for bringing people together, championing his employees to pursue their goals and education, and treating everyone he met like family.

Photo credit: Becky Stein / Atlanta Journal-Constitution


These values are reflected in the initiatives Mr. Stephenson’s gift will support at Moving in the Spirit. 

As we prepare to open our new performing arts and youth development center adjacent to MARTA’s Edgewood/Candler Park station, Mr. Stephensen’s gift will fund our ongoing dance programs, help outfit our theater with state-of-the-art technology, and support the development of new programming designed to teach students marketable production skills. 

“Mr. Stephensen’s gift comes at a transformative time for our organization,” shares Moving in the Spirit CEO, Dana Lupton.

“Dante believed, just as we do, that all people — especially young people — should have the opportunity to thrive. His gift will support Moving in the Spirit as we grow into our new home, a place where young people from across our city will join together to uplift each other, pursue their dreams, and make the world a better place.”

“Dante, at his core, was an entertainer who every evening engaged young and old with the spirit of adventure,” states Ralph Edwards, a longtime friend of Mr. Stephenson and trustee of his estate.

“Besides entertainment, his special gift was the ability to motivate and encourage his young employees to work hard and succeed. Hundreds of them accepted this challenge and will always acknowledge his positive influence on their lives. Dante’s legacy gift to Moving in the Spirit reflects his life’s passions, plus dance, which was also a lifelong love of Dante’s.

Dante Stephensen and Ralph Edwards, touring Moving in the Spirit’s new home under construction in 2019

In honor of the gift and Dante’s legacy of hospitality and genuine love of people, Moving in the Spirit will name the outdoor gathering space in front of our new arts and youth development center “The Hatch.” Nestled under The Hatch will be stones engraved with messages of inspiration for Moving in the Spirit students and passers-by, selected by the many employees-turned-family Dante nurtured over the past four decades. 

“Dante always recognized the potential of those around him and was endlessly generous with his time, talent, and treasure,” says Lupton. “We are honored to be stewards of his legacy.”

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