The Washington Center Gala 2018



Get dressed up and get fancy for the third-annual Center Stage Awards and Gala at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts this July. “This year’s gala will have a Midsummer Night’s Dream feel,” said executive director Jill Barnes. “Think fairies, fireflies and outdoor gardens.”

The gala is a fundraiser that benefits The Washington Center’s mission to inspire artists and audiences of all ages. Patrons can expect a cocktail hour, full dinner, awards ceremony, live auction and entertainment by local artists. “We have such a depth of arts in our community, and we’re proud to be able to feature local performing artists during the gala,” said Barnes. “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.”

Putting together such an event can take nine months to a year, from deciding the look and feel of the event (in this case, Shakespeare-inspired) to procuring items and nominating “Excellence in Arts” award recipients. “It’s a large endeavor, with the help of many committee and board members,” said development director Jocelyn Wood. “Our gala transforms The physical space of the Washington Center, turning the main stage theater into a ballroom. This process takes five days from start to tear-down.”

This year’s “Commitment to the Arts” award will go to local actor, producer and arts supporter Jim This. This has been active in the local arts community for decades, helping cofound Opus Seventy-One and secure initial funding for the building of The Washington Center. He continues to lead local productions and acting workshops. Olympia Family Theater, formed in 2006 by Samantha Chandler and Jen Ryle, won this year’s “Achievement in the Arts” award. OFT provides quality theatrical productions for young audiences.

“The Washington Center is used for over 200 events each year,” said Wood. “Our live auction will feature some unique items including trips to Sun Valley, Los Angeles and unique experiences here in the Olympia region including a red-carpet, Broadway production of Kinky Boots complete with a catered dinner by Dillinger’s Cocktails and Kitchen and limo ride.”



Center Stage Awards and Gala


5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26


The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,

512 Washington St. SE, Olympia