In addition to being involved in the wedding and event community in Thurston County as publisher of South Sound Wedding & Event magazine, I am also involved in the arts and have been for many years. I was honored to be a part of this event as a guest. I am on the board of directors for Ballet Northwest. Our magazine sponsors shows at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts and at Harlequin Productions, plus my husband and I are annual subscribers to both arts organizations.
I was one of nearly 200 guests who attended The Washington Center for the Performing Arts hosted its inaugural CENTER Stage Awards and Gala on July 28 in Olympia, Washington.
Guests were treated to an element of surprise when they entered the main theater to find the stage had been extended over the entire orchestra (lower) level, to create a ballroom-type atmosphere.
The event featured Steve Bean as auctioneer and Cheryl Selby as emcee, and included cocktail hour, dinner catered by Pellegrino’s Catering, an awards ceremony, and live auction.
Guests were entertained throughout the evening by performances by organist Sharon Stearnes on the Andy Crow Wurlitzer organ, a beautiful ballet duet by Ballet Northwest, dancers from Studio West, a dazzling acro-dance performance by Studio One, and the evening was kicked off by Masterworks Choral Ensemble.
Washington Center for the Performing Arts Executive Director Jill Barnes, said, “The entire evening was spectacular, and we were honored to showcase the incredible artistic talent in the community.” Barnes added, “Not only did Masterworks perform to welcome the guests into the theater, many of them stayed and volunteered after their performance!”
The Washington Center provided two awards for Excellence in the Arts. The Commitment to the Arts award was given posthumously to Andy Crow, who had given so much during his lifetime to music education and restoring organs. The Achievement in the Arts award was given to Bud and Mary Johansen who started the Johansen School of Dance in Olympia and trained students in ballet for more than 40 years.
“We were so delighted to award Bud and Mary Johansen and honor Andy Crow, says Barnes. “The awards were heartwarming and meaningful.”
Overall, the event raised $80,000, including funds to overhaul and upgrade a system which assists patrons with hearing loss. “We are delighted to have raised enough to immediately begin expanding our assisted listening program. We were touched to have such outstanding support from donors, especially Panorama City, in making this a reality. Panorama understands the importance of keeping those with hearing loss active and engaged, and we are honored to have their support.” The Washington Center’s goal is to have the new system installed by October 2016.
“With the help from so many donors, we’re looking forward to proving this additional level of accessibility for patrons,” says Barnes. “We are looking forward to – and have already started – planning an equally spectacular awards and fundraising gala for next year.”
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