HARRAH'S CONTRIBUTES $100,000 TO INAUGURAL                                                                                

Images: Michell Hicks and Tom O'Donnell present Chancellor John W. Bardo with a $100,000 check
Michell Hicks (left), principal chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, and Tom O'Donnell (right), general manager of Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel, present a $100,000 check to Western Chancellor John W. Bardo to help fund a series of opening events in the university's new Fine and Performing Arts Center. The presentation took place in the lobby of the center, which features ceramic tiles in the form of a seven-point star representing the seven Cherokee tribal clans.

CULLOWHEE – A $100,000 gift from Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel will help Western Carolina University unveil its new Fine and Performing Arts Center in style, with a grand opening series of cultural events highlighted by a black-tie opening night gala to feature a nationally known entertainer.

A $30 million, 122,000-square-foot showcase for the arts, the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western includes a 1,000-seat auditorium capable of hosting Broadway-quality productions. Workers are putting finishing touches on the performance space, expected to be ready for occupancy by fall semester.

In addition to the performance areas, the center features four separate art galleries comprising more than 4,470 square feet to house Western's permanent collection, and rotating displays of contemporary art and student work. The art wing of the building includes classrooms and office space for Western's art department.

The center is designed as a tribute to the Cherokee nation, with signage in Cherokee and English, and a lobby featuring ceramic tiles in the form of a seven-point star representing the seven Cherokee tribal clans.

“Western Carolina University has had a long relationship with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, through its commitment to preserve the historic value of the site where the university is located, to consultation with the tribe on the disposition of materials recovered at that site, to the development of a Cherokee studies program,” said Principal Chief Michell Hicks.

“Western has also reached out by creating a satellite campus in Cherokee to better serve our students and the academic community. We are thankful that we are in a position to make such an important contribution to Fine and Performing Arts Center, and I look forward to continuing such a successful relationship,” Hicks said.

“We are very proud to make this contribution to support the grand opening series of Western's Fine and Performing Arts Center,” said Tom O'Donnell, general manager at Harrah's Cherokee. “This facility will provide excellent educational enrichment opportunities in the arts, and will do so on a grand scale. This center also will serve as a venue to bring nationally known artists and performers to Western North Carolina, which will in turn attract additional visitors to the region and increase the  length of their stay in our beautiful mountains.”

Although citizens of North Carolina approved funding for construction of the facility as part of the $3.1 billion state higher education bond package in November 2000, it requires the assistance of sponsors such as Harrah's to help provide the programming to bring the building to life, said Western Chancellor John W. Bardo.

“We believe that Western and the Fine and Performing Arts Center will become a true destination for the tourists in search of cultural arts and entertainment-based activities,” Bardo said. “But the university cannot do it alone. We need the support of corporate and business partners and individual patrons of the arts, and we are thankful for the generosity of Harrah's to help us with our opening events.”

 The inaugural season at the Fine and Performing Arts Center will begin Saturday, Oct. 22, with a gala opening night event starring a nationally known performer to be announced later this summer. Several other performances also are on tap for the 2005-06 inaugural season, including three additional events sponsored in part by Harrah's.

 “Hitchcock and Herrmann: Two Legends of Film and Music,” a multi-media performance featuring film clips from director Alfred Hitchcock set to the music of composer Bernard Herrmann as performed live by the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, is set for 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. The world-renowned Atlanta Ballet will perform selections from “The Nutcracker” and other works at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. The United States Marine Band, America's oldest professional music organization, will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

For more information on the inaugural season at Western's Fine and Performing Arts Center, contact Paul Lormand, director of the performance facilities for the Fine and Performing Arts Center, at (828) 227-2479.

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Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University