The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is delighted to bring back the CENTER Stage Awards & Gala and Excellence in the Arts Awards for the first time since the pandemic in 2020. This year’s gala will be held on Thursday, June 29, 2023, as a fundraiser for the Washington Center and an opportunity to celebrate local artists and supporters of the arts.
During the gala, the Excellence in the Arts awards recognize the individuals and organizations whose work, support, and involvement help build a vibrant cultural community in the greater South Sound region. Jill Barnes, Executive Director, says, “We have such a depth of arts in our community, and we’re proud to be able to recognize and feature local performing artists during the gala. It’s an eye-opening display of how vast the cultural talent is here, and an opportunity for them to gain new audiences and appreciation.”
The awards include two categories. The Achievement in the Arts category recognizes outstanding artistry (performing arts or visual arts) by an individual or organization in the greater South Sound. The Commitment to the Arts category recognizes an individual or organization for their leadership, support or advocacy for the arts in the greater South Sound.
Individual nominees for Excellence in the Arts awards must be at least 18 years old and have a history of at least 12 months of work in the arts in Pierce, Thurston, Mason, and/or Lewis Counties. Organizations must be located in Pierce, Thurston, Mason, and/or Lewis counties, and have been in operation for at least 12 months.
The Washington Center opened in 1985 from the belief that a regional performing arts center is fundamental to the cultural pursuits of our community and vital to a better quality of life. Barnes says, “This belief remains at the foundation of our existence today, and is evident with every child that performs on the stage or witnesses the magic of theater.” Over 200 events take place at the Washington Center each year, from local arts and youth organizations to international touring companies.
Nominations will be open until 11:59pm PST April 9, 2023 and can be submitted online.
Previous Recipients (Awards were not conferred between 2020-2022 due to COVID-19)
Achievement in the Arts
2019 – Jill Carter, technical set design expert and mentor
2018 – Jim This, lifelong theater performer and producer
2017 – Joe Baque, career musician
2016 – Bud and Mary Johansen, Co-founders of the Johansen School of ballet
Commitment to the Arts
2019 – R.L. Ray Violin Shop
2018 – Olympia Family Theater
2017 – Stephanie Johnson, City of Olympia public art program
2016 – Andy Crow, advocate for pipe organs and music education