Wright State University graduates co-chair ArtsGala 2020

David and Nancy Smith hope to attract a younger audience to the annual fundraiser

Wright State graduates Nancy and David Smith are co-chairs of the 2020 ArtsGala, which takes place on March 28 in the Creative Arts Center.

Each year, more than 800 patrons gather in Wright State University’s Creative Arts Center for an unforgettable evening of great food, world-class entertainment and an inside glimpse at the rising stars of tomorrow in art, music, theatre, dance and motion pictures. ArtsGala has been delighting guests for 20 years, and this year’s co-chairs, David and Nancy Smith, hope to build on the gala’s longstanding tradition of excellence and expand the event to an even broader audience.

“With any organization or any event, you have to bring in younger people and be more expansive and inclusive,” said David Smith, a 1986 Wright State graduate. “If you haven’t been before, you don’t know what you are missing out on. This is a gem of an event.”

Showcasing Wright State’s most talented students in the fine and performing arts, ArtsGala offers something for everyone — from young professionals to the young at heart. ArtsGala patrons are treated to a variety of live performances in dance, opera, classical music, jazz and the best of Broadway. Themed dining rooms, student films and a silent auction round out the evening.

“When you see what the students do, it really is very young and lively and exciting,” said 1992 Wright State alumna Nancy Smith. “Once people attend the event, they’ll be regulars. It’s that exciting.”

ArtsGala 2020 takes place on Saturday, March 28, in the Creative Arts Center. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit wright.edu/artsgala.

For this year’s ArtsGala, the Smiths have added several new elements to the event including an indoor beer garden featuring local and regional craft beers, a speakeasy with specialty cocktails and an all-new opening ceremony featuring the Wright State Jazz Band.

While maintaining longstanding partnerships with Dayton’s best caterers, the Smiths are collaborating with some of the newest establishments on the local dining scene to take the food and beverage quality at ArtsGala to the next level. They are also working with Wright State alumni to create unique experiences for patrons to bid on during the silent auction. From Broadway performances to world-class food, wine and cigars, this year’s silent auction will appeal to every palette.

Along with showcasing Wright State’s best students in art, music, theatre, dance and motion pictures, ArtsGala raises more than $250,000 annually for student scholarships in the fine and performing arts. Guests who are interested in further expanding their support of Wright State students are invited to join the ArtsGala Society.

“The ArtsGala Society is a great way for individuals to support the event and scholarships,” said Nick Warrington, director of events and community engagement for the College of Liberal Arts. Along with receiving tickets to the event, ArtsGala Society members are assigned a scholarship and an individual student to support for one year.

In addition to recruiting more members to the ArtsGala Society, Warrington welcomes new community partners and corporate sponsors. “This a great event to bring clients or potential employees to,” said Warrington.

While the Smiths have attended ArtsGala for years, they could not even begin to imagine the scope and breadth of the event until they experienced it for the first time. With 11 live performances for guests to enjoy, the Smiths advise patrons to review the schedule and venue map and then craft their plan for the evening.

“You can’t possibly see it all,” said Nancy. “The beauty of that is you just come back the next year.”

Along with enjoying the excitement of shaping one of the Dayton region’s premier arts events, the Smiths are happy to give back to their alma mater by serving as ArtsGala co-chairs.

“Nancy and I both came from traditional middle-class families. Wright State was a great resource,” said David. “Any success that I have garnered through the years — the fundamentals were learned here. They gave me a great education to be successful at what I do.”

“I really enjoyed going to school here,” said Nancy, who continues to be impressed with the value and quality that Wright State provides to its students. “It’s a great springboard for a variety of disciplines.”

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