In an effort to kick off a new tradition, Howard County is gearing up for a fund-raiser focused on the arts.
Organizers hope the first "Executive's Gala" will raise $50,000 for students seeking arts training scholarships as well as for the new James Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts.
This year's gala, "Spotlight on the Arts," will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight Oct. 26 at the Kossiakoff Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Tickets cost $75 in advance or $90 at the door.
"I felt there was a need to recognize what makes Howard County great," said County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who first thought of the idea to have an annual fund-raising gala. Members of his office staff and of the community are organizing the event.
Howard County residents had to trek to Baltimore or Washington to get a taste of the arts years ago, according to Debra Jung of Columbia, who is helping to coordinate the Oct. 26 event. She said the county increasingly tempts residents to stay close to home, with the growing popularity of the Columbia Festival of the Arts and the opening of new galleries.
"There's a lot going on right here that people can take advantage of," Jung said.
One of the county's newest attractions is the Rouse theater, which will be dedicated in February. The theater, a joint project of the county government, Howard County Arts Council and the public school system, is in a wing of Wilde Lake High School. The 750-seat hall will serve as a venue for plays, concerts and other events.
Gala organizers have obtained nonprofit status so that ticket buyers can take a tax deduction.
The group's board of directors includes Jung, George Doetsch of Dayton, Beverly Wilhide of Ellicott City and Louis Hutt, Edward Waddell, Nancy Smith and Jeffrey Krew, all of Columbia.
More than 1,000 invitations to "Spotlight on the Arts" are being sent out to arts patrons, philanthropists, performers and business leaders.
The program will begin with cocktails and a buffet catered by Elkridge Furnace Inn. Renaissance Bakery will provide dessert, and music will be by Barry Enzman and his jazz band.
The groups that will be perform include trumpet players from the Columbia Community Band, Lester Holmes Dance Troupe, Tappers with Attitude, Young Columbians music theater group, Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia, Ballet Royale and violinist Daniel Heifetz. Heifetz, who has performed worldwide, will play duets with students from his International Music Institute in western Howard County.
"We really had to jump through hoops to get him," said Mo Dutterer, the theater teacher at Centennial High School who is arranging entertainment at the gala.
The evening will close with dancing to popular tunes played by the Opus I band and spun by disc jockey Bobby Nyk.
About 900 volunteers are helping solicit sponsors, book entertainment, mail invitations and publicize the event. WJZ-TV general manager Marcellus Alexander will be the honorary chairman. Co-chairwomen are Jung and Peggy Ecker, the executive's wife.
Artist Char Rice contributed an abstract painting to symbolize the event and donated it to Howard County. Organizers used the image on gala programs.
Future galas may raise money for students pursuing education in other fields.
Void in giving
Applications for arts scholarships, which may range from $500 to $5,000, are not yet being accepted. Applicants must be Howard County residents and will be screened by a committee appointed by school and arts officials.
"I think there is a void in giving in that people tend to give to organizations, not individuals," Jung said. "I think it's important to support artists because they enrich our lives and make Howard County a better place to live."
To buy tickets for "Spotlight on the Arts," call Beverly Wilhide at 313-3934. For information about sponsoring the event, call George Doetsch at 290-1100.
Pub Date: 10/13/96