Dear One and All:
If you’ve ever wanted to hear “auctionese” spoken fluently, Saturday night at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (WICA) was the place to be. It was the place to be for other reasons, too, judging by the enthusiasm of the attendees at WICA’s annual gala designed to fund a 20th season of performances.
Around lushly-adorned tables in colors of pink and silver, 120 guests congregated for a gourmet dinner prepared by Orchard Kitchen and served by waiters, many of whom were actually actors playing waiters. These folks—the same folks we see often on our local stages—were lending a hand (well, two hands) as part of a group of volunteers working behind the scenes to make the evening seem like a well-rehearsed production.
In a wonderful reversal of things-as-usual, the tables were placed under the bright lights of the stage, overlooked by the empty seats of the darkened theatre. For one night, the audience was indeed the main event, and what a show they provided.
Indeed, “Passion” lived up to its name. The skill of the auctioneer was matched by the fervor of those bidding for the 50 or so auction items…even after they had already placed silent bids on the 100 items displayed in adjoining Zech Hall. The widespread support for WICA was evidenced by the number and variety of the items donated by local painters, woodworkers, authors, chefs, yogis, weavers, photographers, jewelry makers, potters and more. And there’s no doubt that a large part of the fundraising success of the gala was due to those who, wishing to express their esteem for the late Paul Schell, opened their wallets to join the producers circle named in his honor.
No postcard description of the event would be complete without mention of the Dessert Desire. A dozen gorgeous confections were on display in the lobby before dinner, priming the collective sweet tooth. I was one of two Dessert Desire “debutantes,” (“guards” might be more apt, although, honestly, I almost required a guard myself). Our disappointment at being denied a taste of the apple tart with pine nut ice cream, the blueberry custard pie, the Kahlua-poppy seed bundt cake was almost—almost— exceeded by our pleasure at watching folks trying to select their favorite. One dessert per table, high-bid table has first pick. Nothing motivates quite like sugar—a fact clearly understood by the four committee co-chairs.
As glamorous and entertaining as the gala proved to be, it became clear that what really bound together those in the room—servers and served, volunteers and ticket holders, artists and patrons—was a mutual passion for live theatre, music, dance and storytelling in all its varied forms. This past season, 11,000 tickets were sold to more than 100 performances at WICA. How would we experience the wonder and worth of live performance without a venue in which to do it?
WICA’s logo—realized in metal by artist Tim Leonard—makes a promise. Deliberately off center, larger than life, gleaming flashily yet made of enduring stuff, it is a proclamation on the outside of the building about what to expect on the inside. Big, bold passion.
The success of Saturday night’s gala—over $200,000 in revenues—shows that WICA’s 20th season is off to a passionate start.
As always, wish you were here.
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