By Terry Duffy
The Niagara Arts and Cultural Center invites the community to its 15th anniversary celebration. Titled the "Crystal Gala," the event recognizes the work of the NACC's many contributors and successes since a group of community organizers took over the shuttered former Niagara Falls High School complex and reopened it in 2001.
The celebration takes place at 6 p.m. Friday, June 3, on the front lawn of the NACC, 1201 Pine Ave.
"The NACC would like to take this time to look back on the past 15 years and see how far we've come with the support of our outstanding community of artists, members, volunteers and patrons," said Rachel Olszewski, NACC program director. "Together, we transformed an abandoned school building into an extraordinary multi-arts center dedicated to the preservation, promotion and accessibility of arts and culture in WNY.
"At the same time, the NACC looks to the future, with goals for expanding tourism and cultural advocacy as we continue to grow as an arts center and community-gathering place. The NACC would like to invite supporters and friends to celebrate with us on June 3 at our 'Crystal Gala.' "
The affair will feature presentation of the Niagara Cultural Awards, recognizing prominent individuals and organizations in Niagara under three categories.
•The NACC Distinguished Artist Award, which honors individual achievement in creative expression areas in the arts, including literary, visual, media and multi-arts disciplines, along with music, dance and theater.
Nominees are Victor Marwin, Ruth Thomas and Gary Wolfe.
•The Outstanding Organization Award, presented to an individual or corporate entity "deemed to have made a lasting contribution to the arts or heritage" of the Niagara region.
Nominees include the Niagara Falls, New York, Chapter of The Links Inc., the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and Neto Hatinakwe Onkwehowe.
•The Cultural Cornerstone Award, presented to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the NACC and the cultural community in Niagara Falls. The honoree "has gone above and beyond expectations through volunteerism, advocacy and patronage and ... left their mark on the foundation of the organization. They are a catalyst for cultural and arts accessibility and development," Olszewski said.
Nominees are Lewis Townsend, Norma Higgs, Katherine Koperski and Brook D'Angelo.
Open to the public, this formal event will be held outside on the front lawn steps of the NACC. It will feature foods by The Riverstone Grill on Grand Island, desserts by Baby Cakes of Niagara Falls and musical entertainment by the Ron Corsaro Jazz Quartet.
That evening, the NACC will also welcome visitors to two gallery exhibits "that encompass the creativity and skill of the artists in our building," Olszewski said.
•The first floor Main Gallery will feature an exhibit by Toronto-born Saatchi artist Jonathan Rogers, one of the NACC's most recognized in-house contributors, in a retrospective of his longtime association with the center.
•The NACC Artists Showcase, featuring the works of tenants and members, will be open in The Garden Gallery, located on the second floor. Visitors of the "Crystal Gala" will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite works, with the winning artist to be presented The People's Choice Award.
Olszewski said gala visitors will have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction, featuring artworks, packages, a signed guitar, jewelry, gift certificates, entertainment tickets, sports memorabilia, collectables and other items.
Tickets to the event are priced at $60 for NACC members or $80 general admission. For further information, call 716-282-7530, ext. 7, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Join us as we celebrate the past 15 years and our development, thanks to the support of our outstanding community and patrons," Olszewski said.