It’s time again for Wright State University’s ArtsGala. If you’ve never attended this fun and whimsical event, you don’t know what you’re missing. ArtsGala is like nothing else in Dayton. The performing arts students put on the event, and the money raised is used for scholarships. We caught up with Jennifer Buckwalter, the Assistant Dean of Community and Student Engagement, for a Q&A:
Q: What is ArtsGala and how long has it been around?
A: Wright State University’s College of Liberal Arts created ArtsGala in 2000 with a goal that was two-fold: to showcase to the community the amazing talent of our fine and performing arts students and to raise crucial scholarship support to help them succeed.
Each year at ArtsGala, close to 800 patrons are treated to the excellence of student performances ranging from Broadway revues, musical ensembles and dance performances, to film, live painting and printmaking. There is no other place in town where one can enjoy such a wealth of arts entertainment at one place and one time, and it’s fun, because you move throughout the Creative Arts Center all night long experiencing different arts entertainment in each new space. Add to this schedule a breathtaking silent auction with over 100 items for bid, a cigar tent, bourbon, wine and craft beer tastings, and a martini piano lounge, and you have a unique event that offers something for everyone.
Q: How much money has been raised during the course of ArtsGala’s history? How does it benefit students?
A: Now in its 17th year, ArtsGala has raised over $2 million in scholarships for our amazing students in art and art history, music and theatre, dance and motion pictures.
This scholarship money is crucial for our arts programs and students. The funds help departments attract and retain top-notch, talented students without whom we could not maintain our high-caliber programs. The arts programs are rigorous and very demanding of students’ time. Many students are in class, training and rehearsals all day long and have little time for outside employment. These scholarships allow them to focus on their studies rather than worrying about fully funding their education. Scholarships allow them to focus more time and energy to honing their craft, which gives them more opportunities for success upon graduation.
Q: How many students will be involved in ArtsGala this year?
A: Hundreds of students will participate in this year’s ArtsGala, either performing in one of our five themed dining rooms, on a main stage, or volunteering throughout the evening in a variety of other capacities. Without their enthusiasm, passion and tireless dedication to this process our event would not achieve such success. They are the stars of the show in all regards.
Q: How do you prepare for this event each year?
A: The success of ArtsGala would not be possible without a whole host of dedicated individuals: the ArtsGala Host Committee, the Internal Committee, all the fine and performing arts students, faculty, staff, and strong leadership and support from Dean Sobolik of the College of Liberal Arts and Wright State’s President David R. Hopkins. We are also extremely grateful for our generous sponsors, including presenting sponsors Barnes & Noble at Wright State University and Morris Home Furnishings. Together with support from our auction contributors and Gala attendees, we are able to generate much-needed scholarships for the future artists of our world.
Q: What sort of entertainment can patrons expect?
A: This year, guests will enjoy mini performances of our spring musical, “The Music Man.” The Wind Symphony will perform “Stars and Stripes Forever” with special guest conductor Lois Sutherland, co-chair of this year’s host committee. We will also provide opera, jazz, and chamber music, dance performances, rooms featuring performances of Disney and Broadway tunes, and a student film festival. We will have our student artwork on display and student artists will be busy painting, photographing and printmaking throughout the evening. Part of what makes this event so special is that guests will have the opportunity to interact with our students and learn more about their craft first-hand. This type of exchange is unique and rewarding for both the students and our guests.
Q: What’s new this year?
A: We have a lot of exciting new plans in store for our guests for 2016. The Creative Arts Center is in the middle of an amazingmodernization and expansion, transforming it into a showplace for arts education and performance. At the event, we will celebrate brand-new art galleries, dance studio and stage combat room that will offer our arts patrons even more fantastic student entertainment. All of this new space and activity will be a big draw for guests to come this year.
Q: Walking around and watching the students works up an appetite. What’s on the menu?
A: With support from Amber Rose, Kohler Catering, and WSU’s caterer Chartwells, we will offer a wide variety of culinary delights. Guests this year will enjoy fig and goat cheese crostini, gorgonzola pancetta pizzetta, chicken breast scaloppini, trio cheese tortellini carbonara, herb roasted lamb lollipops (a crowd favorite each year!), peppercorn encrusted round of beef, monk fish with lobster sauce, and much more. We’ll also offer an amazing array of desserts from baklava and white chocolate truffles to mini cannoli and cream puff swans. And of course we won’t forget the delicious chocolate pianos guests take home at the end of the evening — this is a tradition worth maintaining.
Q: How can people attend the event?
A: Tickets are available at www.wright.edu/artsgala.
Q: How can people see more of Wright State’s talented students? Any upcoming shows or exhibitions?
A: Wright State’s fine and performing arts programs offer a wealth of wonderful performances and exhibitions all throughout the academic year, September through May. These events offer high-caliber entertainment for very little to no cost. Our websites are the best resource for these schedules:
- Department of Art & Art History: www.wright.edu/artgalleries
- School of Music: www.wright.edu/music
- Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures: www.wright.edu/tdmp
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