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May 3, 2023

2023 Excellence in the Arts Winners Announced

The CENTER Stage Awards & Gala will be held on Thursday, June 29. The event is a fundraiser for the Washington Center and an opportunity to celebrate local artists and supporters of the arts. “This year’s gala will be a progressive evening of music, celebration, and philanthropy,” says Jill Barnes, Executive Director.

During the gala, the Excellence in the Arts awards will be given to those whose work, support, and creativity help build a vibrant cultural community. This year’s Achievement in the Arts awards will be awarded to Olympia-based comedian Gabriel Rutledge. Rutledge is a past winner of both the Seattle International Comedy Competition and The Laughing Skull Comedy Festival in Atlanta. He’s made numerous television appearances including Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, Nickelodeon’s Nickmom Night Out, Laughs on FOX, and Inside Joke with Asif Ali streaming on Amazon Prime Video. “Comedy is one of the most challenging genres to perform because each and every night is a beta test of material, each with unique audiences,” says Barnes. “We are so proud of the career Gabe has created and delighted to recognize his work in this way.”

This year’s Commitment to the Arts award will be awarded to Greg and Krina Allison. The Allisons founded Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO) twenty-three years ago, in response to a handful of ambitious local high school music students who wanted an orchestra. Together with other young musicians, their families, and music teachers, they formed SOGO. Now in its 23rd season, SOGO currently serves 148 young musicians from over 39 different schools, spanning four counties. “Greg and Krina have worked tirelessly for years to teach and mentor young students,” says Barnes, “and the impact they have made on this community is just extraordinary.”

The CENTER Stage Awards & Gala will begin with the awards and gala at the Olympia Ballroom and progress to Washington Center for Marshall Charloff & The Purple Xperience, the world’s premier tribute to Prince. As seen touring globally for over a decade, starring in a Las Vegas residency, headlining Red Rocks Amphitheater, fronting the world’s finest symphonies, and featured on albums with Prince, Marshall has dominated the world stage as the most authentic Prince tribute artist.


The entire evening will raise funds for the Washington Center. A special fund-a-need will focus on education and outreach to help bring students to the theater. Tickets for the awards and gala are $195 per person and include premium-seating at the performance. Tickets for only Purple Xperience itself range from $25-$65. All ticket options are available at


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