The Washington Center for the Performing Arts will transition this summer’s annual gala to an online experience. The CENTER Stage “Virtual” Gala will be available for all for free by tuning in to the YouTube live event at 7:00 PM on July 23. This free-to-attend online experience is hosted by Olympia’s beloved Ann Flannigan, and includes entertainment and videos from the Washington Center’s artistic partners, surprise messages from well-known artists, and plenty of fantastic auction items and experiences to bid on. All proceeds will help sustain the Washington Center, which remains temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In these unprecedented times of distress for arts organizations globally, the virtual gala is an opportunity to participate at the local level and contribute to the longevity of an organization that has been of service to the community for 35 years. Jill Barnes, Executive Director, says, “The bright spot about this format is that friends and family anywhere in the world can participate.” With 18 local arts organizations who call the Center their home for live performances, the Washington Center is the central hub for the arts in the South Sound Region.
The CENTER Stage Awards & Gala was started in 2016 and would be celebrating the 5th event this summer. “We opted to pause the awards this year,” says Barnes. “We want to shower our recipients with love and appreciation their hard work deserves, and we didn’t want to risk falling short on the recognition they have rightly earned.”
Washington Center staff have worked hard to pivot the gala to an online space, while providing options for a full-sensory experience. Olympia-area guests can pre-order drinks and dinner made by Dillinger’s Cocktails & Kitchen which will be delivered free the day of the event by Washington Center staff. Locals can pre-order dinner by July 20 and enjoy while watching the gala online in the comfort of their own home.
The fantastic auction items include a three-night stay on the rugged Washington coast at Seabrook; seven spectacular nights in Whistler, B.C.; dinner for eight with Ralph & Nancy Munro; and dinner for six with Alex & Tammy Bunn, complete with limo ride and tickets to a performance. Bidding is now live on the Gala’s online auction. Donations can also be made to sustain the arts, as well as help fund a project to upgrade the lighting system in the Washington Center. “Community support is needed to support the arts now more than ever,” says Barnes, “and we are grateful for each and every donation and any level.”