Monday September 01, 2014

Mayor's gala a Middle Eastern affair

'Imagine walking into an Arabian palace in the middle of the desert . . .'
Jason Hewlett

Actress Sheanna James and Mayor Peter Milobar on hand to announce the annual Mayor's Gala for the Arts, which takes place on Saturday, Jan 19.

A theme of Middle Eastern fun and adventure has organizers of the sixth Mayor's Gala for the Arts anticipating the latest fundraiser for the city's three leading arts organizations to be the biggest one yet.

"It seems to be a dinner that's getting better and better every year. Certainly last year's was the funnest fundraiser I'd been to in a long time," Mayor Peter Milobar said at a press conference announcing the event.

And the upcoming gala, which takes place Saturday Jan. 19, 2013, at the Kamloops Convention Centre, will be even better, Milobar said Tuesday.

In a departure from previous years, the gala will accept nominations for two award categories instead of one — Emerging Artist and Business in the Arts.

Judy Basso, fundraising co-ordinator for the Kamloops Art Gallery, said the Emerging Artist award will be paired with a cash prize of $500 and is open to anyone in Kamloops and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District younger than 30 years old.

Award criteria and nomination forms are available now on the art gallery, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and Western Canada Theatre websites.

Last year's gala offered an award for Artistic Innovation, with B.C. Living Arts founder Alan Corbishley the recipient. Corbishley is organizing the entertainment for this year's event.

All the décor, entertainment and menu will have a Middle Eastern flair, with guests encouraged to come dressed for the occasion if they so desire.

Corbishley didn't want to give away what the entertainment will be, but promised a fun night for everyone.

Past winners of the arts award include: Kirsten McDougall (arts volunteer); B.C. Lottery Corporation (corporate leadership); Rhona Armes (educator); and Henry Small (leadership).

Basso hopes the theme will inspire people to purchase their tickets well in advance.

"Imagine walking into an Arabian palace in the middle of the desert, filled with the vibrant colours, scents, and feeling of the Middle East; a place alluding to the mystical magic that we have fantasized about," she said.

Tickets are $100 and on sale from Nov. 20 until Jan. 14 at Kamloops Live! Box Office. Basso suggested the tickets would make a wonderful Christmas gift.

Last year's event raised $25,000 and Basso hopes to top that with $45,000 this year. The money will be divided between the three arts organizations, she said.

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