Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
A perfectly warm summer day earlier in the month, June 10, 2022, saw the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center's Annual Chairman’s Gala and afterparty, Crescendo. The theme? An Evening Drenched in Color.
As a new staff member to the Center and fairly new to the area, this was my first time attending both the Gala and Crescendo. My presence there that night was twofold: I updated the Instagram story as the night unfolded, and I enjoyed the evening as a guest. I set high expectations, and they were surpassed exceedingly well.
I arrived at 5:00 p.m. to the Center’s front doors for the Chairman’s Gala. Guests passed off their keys to the valet attendant and strolled onto the “colorful confetti carpet”. This white carpet was artistically cut to flow like a river and sprinkled with drops of colorful dye to embrace the theme. At the end of this carpet, a professional photographer captured polished, celebrity-style poses by a topiary bush full of vibrant flowers and lettering to indicate the event.
I was left in awe at the stunning outfits that were emulating the theme. Sophisticated, flowing gowns were paired with statement shoes, and sharp suits/tuxes paired well with colorful pocket squares, ties, socks, etc. It was like looking at the Oscars red carpet graced by friends, family, and couples of all ages. All here for the same purpose: celebrating and supporting live performing arts experiences in the Fox Cities.
After walking and working the carpet, guests ventured towards the doors. Inside they were greeted and treated to complimentary glasses of champagne. From here, the attendees moved into the Kimberly-Clark Theater for a cocktail hour and live musical performances. My eyes darted from the walls to the ceilings, to everything in between. The décor could not have been more perfect for the theme: dangling and glittering chandeliers, framed quotes about the arts, and a topiary wall of flowers in every color. The flower wall served as an excellent, eye-catching backdrop for group photos. There was also an extensive bar that served complimentary beer and wine, as well as a few specialty drinks.
The sparkling conversation between guests continued into Thrivent Hall where the evening’s festivities commenced on stage. These included a 3-course meal, speeches, performances, a live auction, and an awards ceremony. The view was spectacular and breathtaking. With the Gala taking place on stage, patrons of the arts had the unique opportunity to occupy the same space as so many incredible and talented artists who showcase their artistic abilities. Each table was a different color theme (blue, purple, green, yellow, and red) and featured clear plastic paint cans with cloth napkins of the same color spilling out of them. This was a particularly nice detail, resembling paint spilling out onto the place settings. I would also be remiss if I did not mention that the stage was set for approximately 300 people; each seat had a unique charger decorated by local students and other community members. Many of these were later auctioned off.
The guests enjoyed the chef prepared meal and were treated to various performances from members of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, high school students from the Center’s Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program, and a smattering of others. The Center Stage students covered the Broadway hit, “You Will Be Found” from the musical production of Dear Evan Hansen
. Their presence and performance perfectly demonstrated the power and importance of support for the arts at this fundraising event. The funds raised from this evening are going towards ensuring the longevity of programs that foster appreciation and knowledge for the arts through the Center, like the Center Stage Program.
Speeches from various community members were sprinkled throughout, as well as recognition for the recipients of the Distinguished Service Award. This award is bestowed on businesses or individuals of the community who display exemplary involvement in the community, volunteerism, and financial contributions. Following all this was the live auction. Many of the items were one-of-a-kind experiences, including shadowing the stage manager to see how a show is put on and run from behind the scenes. It was heartwarming to see those paddles, knowing that each time they were raised, the Center could continue to spread its mission, vision, and values for the performing arts.
After the auction, members of the Gala ventured into the Main Lobby where Crescendo had already kicked off. Crescendo’s cocktail hour was prior to this and featured a live performance from the funk/soul/rock and roll Midwestern band, Big Mouth and the Power Tool Horns.
With the Gala attendees joining the Crescendo guests in the lobby, the party went into overdrive. People were breaking it down on the floor to DJ Shaun Anthony’s expertly mixed playlists of favorite special occasion hits. There was even a conga line!
Some guests mingled in the Bistro section of the lobby, enjoying hors d’oeuvres from local food vendors. I even enjoyed two different kinds of bruschetta when I had the chance. From there, I looked over at the raffle options. One wall caught my eye, “Sip for Bling”. This wall was filled with wine glasses stenciled with the Center’s logo and in the middle was a diamond necklace. The necklace was generously gifted to the Center for this occasion from one of our Community Partners for the 2022-23 Season, Jewelers Mutual Group. Another wall was the “Take a Chance”, a wall where guests could pull out an item from any slot and win a piece of art, gift cards to local restaurants, or even tickets to see Disney’s Aladdin
in December. Happily, I walked away that night with a wine glass and a painted vinyl record.
Even though I felt exhausted, and my feet felt like the size of Texas, no one could wipe the smile off my face. Here I was, dressed to the tens and feeling like a billion dollars, supporting my first true love: the arts. It was a marvelous time meeting other members of the community in such a gorgeous way. I can’t wait for next year’s Chairman’s Gala and Crescendo!