“Masquerade,” Vashon Center for the Arts’ (VCA) annual gala art auction, will return on Saturday, Sept. 24 as an in-person affair to dazzle its attendees once more.
For the last two years, the fundraiser — so crucial to sustaining the venerable arts nonprofit, which is the oldest of its kind in the state — has been live-streamed to adhere to COVID protocols and keep arts lovers safe.
But now, with Gov. Inslee’s announcement of the end of the statewide COVID emergency next month, VCA is thrilled to welcome the community back inside for the gala — this year appropriately themed after the butterfly.
“We chose the butterfly theme because it’s a symbol of resilience and rebirth,” said Allison Halstead Reid, VCA’s executive director. “The pandemic transformed the way we do things as an organization, but we’re still here and in many ways stronger and more nimble. We’ve been through a metamorphosis as an arts community too – so let’s put on our wings and celebrate the arts together.”
While the gala will happen in person, VCA wants all its supporters to feel safe and comfortable.
Art lovers who prefer to show their support from afar will still be able to do so through the event’s silent auction, which began on Sept. 2 and will continue through Sept. 24, at vca.maxgiving.bid.
The auction features more than 140 curated works of art and distinctive treasures, which can also be previewed in person during gallery hours, 12 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Attendees to the Sept. 24 event will be asked to take a COVID home test just prior to arriving. Masks — both the medical and masquerade varieties—will be optional. Once inside VCA’s spacious gallery and atrium, guests will get a chance to see and bid in person on silent auction items before online bidding closes at 6:15 p.m. and guests are ushered into Katherine L. White Hall.
The live auction and paddle raise will take place in the theater, with its comfortably wide rows and state-of-the-art ventilation system. When guests emerge from the performance space, the VCA atrium will magically have transformed into an elegant and airy dining hall.
The Masquerade Gala Art Auction is not just a celebration of art but also the artists behind Vashon’s vibrant arts scene.
“VCA’s auction is all about supporting the arts and our programs,” said Halstead Reid. “Artists who donate their works to the cause are offered commission on their pieces and we want them to get the highest value for their work as well — it’s a win-win for the artist and organization.”
In addition to elevating the works of hundreds of local visual artists, “Masquerade” will be emceed by local performers and Vashon celebrities Kevin Joyce and Martha Enson, of EnJoy Productions, whose high style and chemistry always delight islanders. And, of course, the night will also include the culinary arts — those who purchase tickets to attend the Gala Dinner will be treated to delicious catering by Vashon gem Herban Feast.
VCA’s gala will also acknowledge that the Vashon arts community is not just made of artists, performers, and art lovers; it also includes the students at VCA’s Blue Heron Education Center, who will create tomorrow’s arts scene on Vashon and beyond.
VCA relies on its annual Gala Art Auction to support the programs at the Blue Heron Education Center. Funds raised are used to replenish VCA’s scholarship fund, which makes it possible for hundreds of students to take part in enriching programs regardless of their economic means.
“We’ve seen an increase in financial aid requests this year,” said Blue Heron Education Center Director Wendy Finkleman. “It’s really important for us to have a well-funded scholarship program to make sure every student has access to the arts whether they can afford tuition or not.”
Funds raised at the auction will also go to perform urgent repairs that keep VCA’s historic Blue Heron Education Center in good working condition.
Halstead Reid is optimistic about this year’s campaign.”
“When we had to move the event online in 2020, we thought it was a one-off,” she said. “But, then in 2021, COVID made further changes necessary.”
Despite the COVID-era pivots, Halstead Reid said that VCA’s supporters showed up virtually and helped VCA meet its fundraising goals with the special appeal — raising more than $100,000 for Scholarships in 2020, and doing it again in 2021.
“This is always a magical event, but being able to come back in person this year feels really special; being able to bring our community together, in our space, to be able to feel that collective support — it’s never been more important to the soul of VCA,” she said. “We are so lucky to live in a community that values the arts and creates space — a cocoon, you might say — for artists to do what they do best. Art can bring a community together and transform each of us into our better selves — and that’s what this year’s Masquerade Gala Art Auction is all about.”
To buy tickets to the gala, visit vashoncenterforthearts.org, or view and bid online until Sept. 24 at vca.maxgiving.bid.