When it comes to the arts in Olympia, the Washington Center for Performing Arts is an excellent resource for a wide range of arts engagement. The Center has been serving the community artistically for more than thirty years. This not-for-profit organization strives to offer great entertainment on stage and outstanding support for local artists and businesses. To support these programs, the Washington Center is hosting the second annual Center Stage Awards & Gala on September 23, 2017.

And you’re invited!

WA Center
Local ballerinas donated their time to perform a special dessert service at the 2016 Gala. Photo credit: Kathy Strauss Photography

“We wanted to create something to showcase who we are and why we are here,” says Jocelyn Wood, development director for the Washington Center. “The whole reason we exist is to bring the arts to the community,” she explained. The Center Stage Awards & Gala is both a fundraiser for the Washington Center and a way to thank supporters for their contribution with an elegant evening that is sure to entertain.

On the evening of the gala, the main stage will be transformed into a chic ballroom with art deco flair. Upon arrival, guests will be greeted with cocktails and drinks in the lobby area. After a period of mingling, they will be escorted into the ballroom for the main event. Throughout the course of the evening, performances from local artistic partners will keep the evening interesting. The Gala will also feature a live auction, including a two-night getaway in Walla Walla wine country, three nights at the Scottsdale Princess Resort and Spring Training, as well as a raffle entry for a chance to win one of many fabulous prizes.

Stephanie Johnson
Johnson is a long-time advocate of the arts in Olympia and will be awarded for Commitment to the Arts at the 2017 Gala. Photo credit: Winter Teems

The awards portion of the evening will honor two special guests for excellence in the arts. For Commitment to the Arts, the awardee is Stephanie Johnson. Stephanie works for the City of Olympia and has been an advocate for the arts in the city for nearly twenty-five years. She is part of the brains and driving force for Olympia Arts Walk and is responsible for the artwork wraps on the city utility boxes downtown. “[Stephanie] has helped bring an awareness to the arts and make it part of the community,” says Wood.

The second awardee of the evening for Achievement in the Arts is Joe Baque. Joe is a jazz pianist with a long musical career, beginning piano at the age of six. Baque played piano in New York City for years with many of the finest jazz musicians of our time. He was lured away from the Big Apple by love and now calls Olympia home. He passes on his musical expertise by actively mentoring other musicians in our area. For a chance to see him perform, please reference his calendar of events.

Joe Baque
At the 2017 Awards & Gala, Joe Baque will be awarded for Achievement in the Arts as a jazz pianist. Photo courtesy: Joe Baque

The Gala is a fundraising event for the Washington Center’s general operating fund, but it also is an opportunity to fund a specific need. This year’s fund-a-need proceeds will help purchase  a new high-definition projector, a first for The Washington Center. Wood explains, “Digital image technology has made significant advances. A new digital projector for the main theater will bring high-definition and crisp, clean visual imagery to hundreds of events for the community each year.”

Tickets to the gala are sold individually and as a table. Individual tickets are $145 per person. Discounts apply to table sales. Tickets can be purchase online or via the box office. Cocktail attire is encouraged for this elegant event. For those who would love to continue the fun after the gala, an after party with drinks and music by jazz songstress LaVon Hardison will be held in the lobby.

Washington Center for the Performing Arts
Guests of the 2016 Gala posed for a photo during cocktail hour. Photo credit: Kathy Strauss Photography

Supporting the Washington Center for the Performing Arts is an excellent way to give back. The Center works diligently, with the help of hundreds of local volunteers, to enhance the vibrancy of our community.

If you are looking for a way to invest in a nonprofit organization and celebrate those who are dedicated to the arts, or simply want to dress-up and enjoy an evening with other art lovers, this event is a can’t-miss.

This video from last year’s event offers a sneak peek of what lies in wait for you this year at the 2017 Center Stage Awards & Gala.


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