In celebration of a half decade of past experiences in the Fine and Performing Arts Center and looking ahead to the coming years, Western Carolina will host a semiformal gala featuring red carpets, bright lights, gallery openings and a new Gershwin musical Friday, Oct. 22.
The university’s $30 million showcase for the arts and arts education opened its doors to the public five years ago this October amid a gala evening of elegance and entertainment by comedian Jay Leno. Since then, the 122,000-square-foot center has brought to the region cultural events ranging from sellout performances of concert, drama and dance to visual arts, music and theater festivals. Tens of thousands of people have been touched by an experience within the walls of the venue over the years, said Robert Kehrberg, dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts.
The FAPAC has played host to the annual Galaxy of the Stars Series, featuring performers such as the Capitol Steps, N.C. Symphony, Atlanta Ballet and political satirist Mark Russell. In addition to providing a home stage for WCU-produced plays and musicals, the venue has attracted nationally known artists including the Smothers Brothers, Mickey Rooney, Linda Lavin, Roy Clark and Garrison Keillor. The center’s Fine Art Museum has held about 90 exhibitions ranging from student and faculty shows to photographs from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and print pieces by contemporary glass pioneer Harvey Littleton.
An evening of celebration will kick off outdoors at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception under festive tents in the FAPAC courtyard. Guests are invited to mingle before the show; preview the opening of a new gallery exhibit in the Fine Art Museum, “Mike Smith: Seeing Rural Appalachia”; and witness the unveiling of the outdoor sculpture exhibition, a new addition to the center’s cultural offerings.
Festivities then move indoors for an opening performance at 7 p.m. by the Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet followed at 7:30 p.m. by “’S Wonderful,” a new off-Broadway show celebrating the music of George and Ira Gershwin.
Tickets to the special night are on sale now. For ticket information, visit fapac.wcu.edu or call 828.227.2479.