The Washington Center for the Performing Arts held the 5th Annual CENTER Stage Awards & Gala last night – though in a virtual format to accommodate the current day pandemic. The free-to-attend online experience was hosted by Olympia’s beloved Ann Flannigan. The Washington Center is proud to announce that thanks to the very supportive and enthusiastic donors, the evening raised over $61,500. In addition, the virtual nature reduced expenses significantly.
The highlights of the evening were certainly performances by the Center’s artistic partners, including Olympia Symphony Orchestra, Debbi’s Dance Etc., Studio West Dance Academy, and Ballet Northwest. In addition, special guest appearances by international touring artists Keb’ Mo’ and Rosanne Cash were made. A recording of the evening remains on the Center’s YouTube channel, and vignettes are being released on social media beginning today.
In these unprecedented times of distress for arts organizations globally, the virtual gala was 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, “With 18 local arts organizations who call the Center their home for live performances, the Washington Center is the central home for the arts in the South Sound Region, and we take pride in serving their needs, and our entire community.”
Barnes says, “Washington Center staff worked so hard to pivot the gala to an online experience, and I’m so proud of all their efforts.” While the event itself was virtual, attendees had the option to purchase catering from Dillinger’s Cocktails & Kitchens, which was delivered in advance of the gala and helped provide a full-sensory experience.
Donations can still be made to sustain the arts, as well as help fund a project to upgrade the lighting system in the Washington Center. “Community support continues to be needed to support the arts now more than ever,” says Barnes, “and we are grateful for each and every donation.” All proceeds will help sustain the Washington Center, which remains temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s gala would not have been possible without the support of the event’s sponsors: Olympia Federal Savings and Dillinger’s Cocktails & Kitchen.