This year’s season-opening Gala at the Fine Arts Center was a hit! Our courtyard and sculpture garden were transformed into a Rio Carnival, with mouth-watering Latin American food and colorful, festive decorations, and the festivities ushered in by Brazilian dancers. We themed the event to recognize the carnival spirit in connection with the excitement of last month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. From the early days of the Olympics, art has played a role in the festivities – early on as the ‘Olympic Art Competitions,’ and later as the ‘Cultural Olympiad.’ The Gala was a fantastic way to celebrate the US’s incredible success at the Games in Olympic City USA while also recognizing a wonderful year at the FAC.
The Gala is our biggest party of the year, and this year it was an especially significant event, celebrating a great end to our season, and welcoming in the start of our new season, as well as our exciting future with Colorado College! At this historic time for the Fine Arts Center, Colorado College, and Colorado Springs alike, the evening was the perfect occasion to take stock of the great things that the FAC has seen over the past season, and the greater things to come!
The Gala is also our most significant fundraiser of the year, and we were excited for David to announce a major gift to the Fine Arts Center. The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation has funded arts education and aspiring artists for many years. This year, their board made the decision to disband the Foundation and carry on its legacy by dispersing its assets to like-minded arts programs. They have chosen to fund our ongoing scholarship program for youth who show interest, initiative and talent in visual arts and who don’t have the financial resources to undertake serious arts education. This continues the legacy of their founder Marie Walsh Sharpe and is being made in honor of the Foundation’s late Executive Director Joyce Robinson. Joyce had deep ties to the Fine Arts Center and served as our Director of Education for many years. We are proud to be able to continue this legacy in such a meaningful way, and we are immensely grateful for the generous gift of $330,000 from the foundation.
A Student Membership Prize was also presented this year. This prize acknowledges and supports the future generation of artists and arts advocates by making a Fine Arts Center membership prize available to an outstanding student, enabling him or her to become much more involved with the Fine Arts Center and its programming via this special access. This Student Membership Prize has been awarded to Jesse Swedlund, a student in the Colorado College art department, who was at the Gala.
On behalf of Kirkpatrick Bank, David Kunstle, the FAC Board Vice Chair presented Bart and Cathy Holaday with the Grand Honoree Award as the highlight of the evening. Bart and Cathy are incredibly generous supporters of culture, innovation, and creativity as
driving forces in a thriving, vibrant community and are an example of how passionate philanthropy focused in exciting ways can bring enrichment and vitality to our own community. Prior to their historic gift this spring, they had already made significant impact on the Fine Arts Center. With the addition of their recent $1 million gift to create a 21st century interactive museum experience in the newly named ‘Holaday Gallery,’ their impact will expand exponentially. We are so appreciative of their spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism that will help us realize our vision of opening up the world of art and art history to new generations of museum-goers.