The Fine Arts Center holds 31st Annual Gala Fundraiser with ‘Roaring into the ‘20s’ theme

Event roaring with auctions, a Speakeasy room, live music and award-winning dinner


Evelyn Rodriguez/Daily Collegian

By Evelyn Rodriguez, Collegian Correspondent

On Saturday Feb. 1, the lower level of the campus center auditorium was taken back in time 100 years as the Fine Arts Center hosted its 31st Annual Gala Fundraiser with a “roaring into the ‘20s” themed event. The fundraiser was for the Art/Access outreach programs that the Fine Arts Center funds.

The program included Angel Tickets, K-12 student daytime performances and artist connections Over the last 10 years this gala has raised over $420,000 to benefit the arts programs.

The evening began with cocktails, appetizers, a raw food bar, red-carpet photos and the “early-bird” auction. Many of the pieces donated were from local artists who also held a “meet the artists” segment. The first auctions closed at 6:30 p.m.

John Ebbets and Jamilla Deria, directors of the Fine Arts Center gave a speech which was followed by artists connection presentation by Eric Mrugala of the department of music and dance. University of Massachusetts Catering served a three-course meal and there was a silent auction followed by a long night of dancing and a costume contest.

The auditorium was full within 30 minutes of the beginning of the event.

Steve Upton a UMass alum who built Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield, attended the event. He is now a wildlife photographer and donated one of the pictures being auctioned.

“Food service used to be so bad you could only eat dry hamburgers and chocolate milk,” Upton said.

Patty Upton, who has worked in registrar’s records for eight years was also in attendance, said: “We’ve been attending this event since the beginning. We have always supported the Fine Arts Center.”

Jeff McFarland and his wife have been attending the event for 10 years, as long as his wife has worked at the Fine Arts Center. “My wife is a fiber artist, so she usually donates a scarf or something. We try to contribute whenever we can,” McFarland said.

The 1920s theme was in full swing. There were women with voting sashes walking around with signs reminding people to utilize our right to vote. The speakeasy room was complete with a whiskey bar.

One of the organizers of the event, Anna Robbins said, that the “event used to take place in the Student Union ballroom, however it had now been in the Campus Center for 6 years.”

The event that has sold out five straight years with over 300 guests in attendance. 

Evelyn Rodriguez can be reached at [email protected].