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July 30, 2019


The 4th annual Center Stage Awards & Gala was held last Thursday, July 25. The Washington Center is proud to announce that thanks to the very supportive and enthusiastic donors and guests, the evening raised over $158,000. “This was an extraordinary evening of generosity and love for the arts,” says executive director, Jill Barnes. “Thanks to our sponsors, community, artistic partners, and the many volunteers that gave their time and energy to make this evening truly special, we are celebrating all that was raised to continue to bring joy and interactive entertainment to our region through this jewel that is our theater.”

Attendees Jennifer McCaulley and Sonia Allen

The venue was beautifully decorated to create a mid-century modern themed evening. Many guests dressed up for the occasion with plenty of pearls, ties, polka dot or vividly-colored cocktail dresses, bouffant and flip hairstyles, and even fabulous rented attire. One of the many highlights of the evening was the awards for “Excellence in the Arts.” Jennifer Hermann, Olympia Symphony Executive Director, eloquently introduced R.L. Ray Violin Shop, recipient of the Commitment to the Arts awardee. Ken Johnson, Ballet Northwest Co-Artistic Director, spoke passionately about Jill Carter, long-time Olympia resident and set designer, producer, and all-around performing arts hero.

The Washington Center thanks sponsors Ascent Audiology & Hearing and Olympia Federal Savings for supporting such a significant event. Regional actor Ann Flannigan was the extraordinary emcee for the evening, alongside auctioneer Ron Hippe. Throughout the evening, guests were treated to a wide variety of experiences such as live poetry writing by Marlene (Seven) Bremner, and a live oil painting demonstration by Kimberly Saltiel. The auction was punctuated by vignettes of entertainment by Amy Shephard, Sharon Stearnes, Olympia Youth Chorus, Studio West Dance Academy, Debbi’s Dance, Etc., John Guarente, Ballet Northwest, and Christopher Di Nunzio.

“As a performing arts space, we feel it’s important to showcase the talent in our own community and provide thoughtful pieces of art throughout the evening to reenergize and inspire our guests,” says Barnes. “This year’s gala accomplished all of this and more. We’re deeply grateful to everyone who attended and contributed – continuing to make the arts a priority in all of our lives.”

This year’s fund-a-need was designated to purchase a new speaker system for the main theater called a line array. This technology is custom designed for the theater space, and provides greater coverage, syncing of sound waves, and is better equipped to cover the entire room. The fundraising was kicked off by an incredibly generous $20,000 gift by Ron & Talia Hastie, matching up to four $5,000 gifts. The Washington Center plans to have the new system installed before the beginning of the 2019-2020 season at the beginning of October. The new equipment will be used by touring artists, as well as all local performers and artistic groups utilizing the Washington Center’s main theater.

For more information about upcoming events please visit or call the Box Office at 360-753-8586.

Posted in: Development , Press Release
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