Friends of the Arts Gala raises nearly $150,000

Terrence Mann, WCU’s Phillips Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre, entertains guests during the annual Friends of the Arts Gala.


Western Carolina University’s Friends of the Arts Gala, held Saturday, April 8, raised nearly $150,000 to benefit scholarships and programming for students in WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts.

This year’s event at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center was an invitational gala celebrating the “Dawning of the Age of the Arts.” The gala culminated with a live performance of “Hair, The Musical,” presented by WCU’s School of Stage and Screen and directed by Terrence Mann, a star of Broadway and the university’s Phillips Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre.

The annual gala serves as the Friends’ major fundraiser for the year, supporting arts programming that benefits WCU students, the campus and the community.

“The 2017 FOA gala was so successful because of the wonderful supporters who made significant contributions to the scholarships and programming of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. We are most grateful to all our friends,” said Connie Haire, chair for this year’s event. Activities ranged from a silent auction, live auction and wine bottle cork pull to a scholarship pledge called “fund-a-need.” Proceeds from the event included a $25,000 endowed scholarship presented by WCU Chancellor David Belcher in honor of his wife, Susan Belcher.

Mann was one of two special guests attending the event, with the other being acclaimed author Ron Rash, WCU’s Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies. Each was featured in the live auction, with guests bidding on “Brunch with Terrence Mann,” including a brunch and drinks for 12 people, plus a private performance by Mann on the Bardo Arts Center stage, and “Burning Bright,” a fireside dinner for eight people with Rash and the Belchers.

The event was sponsored by Harris Regional Hospital, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Carolina West Radiology, Entegra Bank, Dr. Laurin Cardwell DDS, Fusions Spa, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian’s Vice Chief Office, Sequoyah Fund, David and Margaret Agee, Duke Energy, Dr. David McGuire DDS, Lee’s & Legs Wine and Beer, Baxley’s Chocolate and Aramark Catering.

Friends of the Arts offers multiple levels of membership for anyone wishing to provide support throughout the year. More information can be found at