Story by Matthew Parks, Staff writer
Thursday evening, the the College of Humanities & Fine Arts and the Office of Development hosted the 8th annual A Taste of the Arts event.
All proceeds from the event will be used to provide scholarships to students in Murray State’s music, theatre and art & design programs.
Students in the Fine Arts programs had the opportunity to showcase their talents, while patrons at the event bid on artwork, services and other prizes in both silent and live auction formats.
Robert Valentine, senior lecturer of advertising, acted as the master of ceremonies for the evening, introducing speakers and acts, also informing guests during his opening speech that, “This is as elegant as you’re gonna get for the weekend – for most of you it’s as elegant as you’re gonna get for the rest of the year.”
He said raising funds for the arts is important, and highlighted some of the accomplishments of Murray State’s fine arts alumni and current programs, giving special attention to W. Earl Brown, a Murray State alumnus who was awarded the Department of Theatre 2016 Outstanding Alumni in the Fine Arts Award for his work in various television shows and movies.
“That level of excellence is only achievable when student programs have the funding they need in order to succeed,” Valentine said.
Tina Bernot, executive director of development, was responsible for planning the event.
She said she started working at Murray State when planning for the first event was in progress and she helped execute the first event, which has been repeated every year since.
“Recruiting for the arts is very similar to recruiting athletes for the university,” Bernot said. “The contributions are split between the three sections and can offer full scholarships to one talented student per department or split the funds to offer a wider variety of scholarship opportunities.”
Over 100 items were donated for the auction portion of the evening, Bernot said, adding that the most high-grossing of those “items” are actually experiences, such as the opportunity to conduct the Racer Band, host a wine tasting, or vacation at Gulf Shores, among others.
Bernot said the total value for the items and services donated this year grossed around $25,000. As of Friday afternoon, Bernot reported the event raised over $20,000 in donations with a 7 percent increase in auction packages sold. Final numbers will be available next week after expenses are calculated.
Other than the auction items, Bernot said 21 full tables were reserved by sponsors at the cost of $500 per table, and many individual seats were sold as well.
Talent showcases for the evening included a performance by EQ Blue, an acapella group that specializes in remaking acapella covers of current pop songs, a performance by Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity for women, monologues by theatre students Shelby Frye and Corey Storm, and a surprise performance by the Murray State Racer Band.
President Bob Davies spoke briefly to the crowd about the event’s importance and the significance of Murray State’s fine arts programs.
“Raising scholarship funds is obviously an essential role in the university,” Davies said. “This event is an amazing channel for that purpose. There’s really nothing like being able to showcase the work of our students to those who support them.”
He gave high praise to the students who performed throughout the evening and encouraged those attending the event to donate generously to support the arts.
“You’re supporting the best of Murray State, the best of the Commonwealth, and the best of humanity,” Davies said.