On January 22, 2015 more than 800 gathered at the PAC to take part in Curtain Up!, a celebration of the PAC’s splendor, our community’s artists, and the Foundation’s Encore Endowment Campaign. The Encore campaign, quietly progressing since the fall of 2013, was launched to grow the Foundation’s current endowment from $3 million to more than $5 million to better sustain the future of —and access to—performing arts in the community. After months of planning by the Foundation’s Board, the Encore and Curtain Up! Committees, as well as the PAC’s front of house and technical staff, the red carpet was laid out and the doors to the Hall opened for an admission-free evening set to delight all.
Curtain Up! opened with Cal Poly University Organist, Paul Woodring on the Forbes Pipe Organ. The house went dark after Paul’s applause came to an end, and the HD screen took center stage, illuminated with the premiere of the Foundation’s mission video. The video, highlighting recent performances from the local arts community, tells the Foundation’s story, and provides inspiration for the future of what the Foundation can make possible at the PAC through its membership. The video was shot entirely on-site at the PAC during the last two months of 2014 with the help of the Bottle Branding team.
At the close of the video, Foundation board member and Curtain Up! host and producer, Curt Van Inwegen took the podium to welcome the audience and remind us why the arts are so essential to us in this community. Following, Foundation member and Committee Chair Merikay Peterson Guhring gave her testimony of the legacy her parents left from their support of the PAC as Founders. Merikay then introduced conductor Carol Kersten, and the Academy String Orchestra- the intermediate component of the Youth Strings of the San Luis Obispo Symphony.
Following the Academy, Brian Asher Alhadeff of OperaSLO painted a very vivid picture of what it is like as a conductor or performing artist in Harman Hall, with a space, technical team, and tools that rival the Met, or La Scala, right here in our own backyard.
Demonstrating just how the PAC technical crew can bring an artist’s work to life, Deyo Dances and Take it SLO a capella choir, led the audience through a “working rehearsal”, as the normally behind-the-scenes technical crew took the bare stage, to a full-scale production. Long flowing sheets and spaceship-like lights dropped from the ceiling, bordering and illuminating the performers. Lights and patterns were projected magically on to the sheets, as a moonlit ocean appeared behind Deyo, and Take it SLO.
Before the four song set came to a close, the Central Coast Children’s Choir appeared from the aisles, clapping and singing, joining the Deyo/ Take it SLO collaboration already on stage. The CCCC went on to perform three numbers conducted by Beth Klemm, most famously, the opening song to Disney’s animated feature Frozen, Vuelie (Christophe Beck and Frode Fjellheim).
Wrapping up the show, Foundation Board President, Clifton Swanson, led the audience through an overview of the Meyer Sound Constellation system, demonstrated by music director and conductor Michael Nowak and the San Luis Obispo Symphony. The system, funded through Foundation members’ gifts, enables the accurate distribution of sound through orchestra members, enhancing overall performance capability and quality.
The Foundation’s Executive Director, Heather Cochrane, stepped in to the spotlight just before the Symphony took the stage to make an unprecedented announcement: the Foundation had already reached more than 80% of its total Encore Campaign goal. Cochrane asked those in attendance to consider joining other members of the Foundation, offering them a chance to support what they are most passionate about. Currently, the Foundation has raised $2.1 million in cash gifts for the Encore campaign, and close to $1 million in deferred estate gifts. The Encore Campaign Committee maintains a goal of $2.5 million in cash gifts, by the close of the campaign in September 2015.