Art Beat: Patrons take ‘Center Stage’ to sponsor ECA arts programming 

The crowd watches a presentation at Center Stage. (Photo by Kathy Hashbarger)

Publisher’s note: In this new Art Beat column, Edmonds resident Royce Napolitino will be contributing to Edmonds’ arts and entertainment coverage.

A veritable Who’s Who in Edmonds attended Wednesday night’s Center Stage exclusive season announcement and sponsorship event at Edmonds Center for the Arts. Next week, May 8, the ECA showcases its 2019-2020 season and opens its box office to full season subscriptions, 8+ show and 5+ show packs subscriptions, as well as single ticket sales to the general public.

Local business owners and restaurateurs, long-time residents, benefactors and other art supporters flocked around four-seat tables assembled around the stage and wings of the theatre. Chef Dane Catering provided lovely appetizers and those cupcakes from Cakes by Frosted had many stating, “thank goodness they’re small” in attempts at portion control. The drinks flowed and the hubbub rumbled through the audience, with alliances forming and sponsors strategizing to fulfill their art-heart’s desires.

After welcomes and introductions by ECA officials and staff, Patrick Grant of Avid Auctions offered a brief introduction to the rules of the evening before launching into the auction. The idea is this: When the floor opens, anyone wishing to sponsor a show at the Platinum Level may rise and announce their intent. The auctioneer turned over sponsor after sponsor, sweeping up headliners at the premium sponsorship level. Sponsors began teaming up to collect the gems in this crown of shows in the upcoming season and — 40 minutes later — all were sponsored. These included a new Accessibility Sponsor to support access to patrons with disabilities, the Cabaret Series, the Saturday Matinee Series, and numerous Special Engagement Mystery Show sponsorships. Every last one was supported — some by individuals, some co-sponsored — but all spoken for!

Then, ECA’s Director of Programming Gillian Jones reported on 2018-2019 Education & Outreach programs including Artist Residences & Outreach, Dementia Inclusive Series, Arts Enrichment Camps, Kidstock, & Education Matinees, as well as the ECA’s Arts for Everyone program, which brings ticket prices down to $2 for low-income students, families and older adults).

College Place Elementary teacher Ciara Leckie delivered a moving testimony on how ECA’s Outreach Programs help those who need it most, including the discounted ticket pricing for those with socio-economic limitations. These programs are so popular with teachers in our community that full houses were swept up in the ECA’s Teacher’s Preview held the night before. The impact of her message stirred up another round of donations that echoed through the ECA auditorium, with matching pledges coming from those already beyond their budgets. Bill the bartender contributed, as well, bringing in matching donations from around the room. ECA volunteers on hand (who already donate hundreds of hours each year) got involved and began offering their support, and the love poured out of purses, wallets and handbags again!

This year’s support for Center Stage outshined the previous year and showed the unwavering dedication of local patrons and benefactors. It’s support that is cultivated through a sincere appreciation of local arts programming, a desire to foster burgeoning acts and art forms, and to fund outreach and education programs that benefit our community.

Congratulations to all those involved in the Edmonds Center for the Arts. I look forward to the 2019-2020 season and sincerely appreciate the local patrons, benefactors and sponsors who make this valuable and dynamic programming possible.

— By Royce Napolitino

  1. Nicely done, Royce. I look forward to future columns. And, it was a record Center Stage fundraising event. Congratulations to Staff, the three Boards, the many Volunteers, great Presenters and everyone who attended and participated.
    Yeah Edmonds, the ECA and all the other tremendous organizations.

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