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Tickets on sale for BIG ARTS ‘A Dream Come True’ gala

By Staff | Jan 14, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED BIG ARTS will hold its “A Dream Come True” grand opening gala on Jan. 24, featuring The Temptations on stage in its new state-of-the-art Christensen Performance Hall.

BIG ARTS will celebrate the completion and grand opening of its new campus and building with an evening of food and fun, along with a performance by a well-known soulful group of musicians.

The “A Dream Come True” gala will take place on Jan. 24 at the facility on Dunlop Road. The festivities will kick off at 5 p.m. with a seated dinner catered by the Paper Fig Kitchen, followed by a concert at 7:15 p.m. in the state-of-the-art Christensen Performance Hall with The Temptations.

In addition, there will be after-concert desserts and more for interested attendees.

Donna Gillroy, acting marketing and development director for BIG ARTS, explained that the evening marks the opening of the new site and serves as a fundraiser to complete the project’s capital campaign.

“We call it the final phase,” she said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Illustration of the new Christensen Performance Hall.

The gala will also recognize the major donors to the “Continue the DREAM” project.

Formerly called Schein Hall, the new performance hall has been named after Gustav and Vibeke Christensen. The fine arts gallery will be called the Dunham Gallery, after Tom and Barbara Dunham, and the Second Floor wing is now the Raisbeck Education Center, after Dave and Ellen Raisbeck.

“It’s where lectures and workshops and classes will take place,” Gillroy said of upstairs.

As for the evening of festivities, dinner will feature themed buffet stations located throughout the building, along with upward of 80 decorated tables for ample seating and four, full open bars.

The menu options will include bourbon and honey poached pear salad with marinated balsamic tenderloin, marinated chicken breast or house chilled smoked salmon, two types of pasta dishes with the choice to add grilled chicken or Italian sausage, and a build-your-own Chinese take-out dish.

PHOTO PROVIDED From left, BIG ARTS Executive Director Lee Ellen Harder with Tom Dunham, Vibeke Christensen, Gaye Pigott, Gustav Christensen and Barbara Dunham.

There will also be Southwest crab cakes, petite beef Wellington, lamb lollipops and more.

“There’s classical music during the dinner,” she said, explaining that various artists will be set up throughout the facilities to perform for diners and set the ambiance for the start of the gala.

The doors to the Christensen Performance Hall will open at 6:45 p.m.

“They can bring cocktails into the performance hall because every seat has a drink holder,” Gillroy said. “They can have their cocktails and wine in the hall and get their seats early for the show.”

The Temptations will take the stage just after 7 p.m.

“They’re going to do all of the old-time favorites,” she said.

Otis Williams – the sole surviving Temptation out of the original group – will perform beside lead vocalists Ron Tyson and Terry Weeks and base vocalist Willie Greene Jr. The group will be accompanied and supported on stage by a blockbuster backup of over a dozen world-class musicians.

“We are thrilled to be able to have The Temptations on the island for the first time,” Gillroy said.

During the concert and post-performance, there will be a live band and dancing in the new onsite garden. Five-piece band Winslow and the Rockefellers will perform, while the Paper Fig Kitchen will provide a crepe station and a coffee and tea cafe, along with cheesecake, lemon bars and brownies.

In addition, the new Dunham Gallery will be open for attendees. The first exhibit to be showcased is “Time for Joy,” by international artist Mally Khorasantchi, which will be on display until March 1.

“There will be a live band for dancing, or they can enjoy socializing in the new gallery,” Gillroy said.

The gala tickets are $750 and include the evening’s festivities and valet parking.

“It is black-tie optional,” she said. “So there will be gentlemen in jackets and tuxedos.”

Tickets are limited, so people are encouraged to get theirs soon.

“This marks a major moment on the islands and a way for the community to come together with old friends and meet new ones to celebrate a major community resource – and it is going to be a heck of a lot of fun,” Ginny Stringer and Janet Strickland, event co-chairs for the gala, said.

Gala tickets are only available by phone at 239-395-0900.

On Jan. 25 – the day after the gala – BIG ARTS will host a free Community Open House for the public at the new facilities from noon to 4 p.m. There will be live music performed by the Island Jazz, BIG ARTS Community Band and BIG ARTS Community Chorus, along with tours of the garden area, art gallery and performance hall. In addition, Rib City will be serving up barbecue sliders and sides.

For more information, visit www.BIGARTS.org or call 239-395-0900.

The BIG ARTS campus is at 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel.