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Arts Fundraiser Spotlights OU-Lancaster’s Past and Future

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The sounds of Section 8, a men’s a cappella group from Ohio University, filled the Lancaster campus’ Wagner Theatre on Saturday, an evening where the past and present came together.

A special fundraising event for the arts was called “Ohio University Lancaster Celebrates the Arts: A Reflection and A Glimpse.”

Those in attendance toured several parts of Brasee Hall, while learning about the history of arts and culture on the Lancaster Campus and what the possibilities are for the future.

A progressive dinner took the attendees through several parts of the building that are crucial to arts and culture on campus.

“We hope to update our facilities to support more arts and culture activities on campus for our students and the community,” said Development Director Mandi Custer. “But we need support from our community to be able to do that.”

The “reflection” part of the evening centered around the work of Anthony Davenport, an artist and a former Ohio University Lancaster professor of art. Davenport worked at OUL from 1978 to 2004.

Those in attendance also looked back at past theatrical performances held in the Jeffrey R. Wagner Theatre on campus. Wagner was director of the theatre from 1969–1998.

The “glimpse” part of the night examined the campus’ vision for the Raymond S. Wilkes Gallery for the Visual Arts. The gallery is named after the former campus dean who served in that role from 1978 to 1994.

Davenport and Wilkes started at OUL during the same year and worked together to build arts and culture on campus. Davenport’s work was on display in the art gallery. Their widows, Maria Wilkes and Kay Davenport, helped plan the evening’s festivities.

The event included live music and a backstage look at Little Shop of Horrors, which is being performed by the OUL Theatre from April 18–27.

“The arts are a significant part of our history here at OUL, and as dean, one of my goals is to preserve this history as best we can and to make sure our future includes artistic and cultural opportunities for our students and our community,” said Lancaster Campus Dean Jim Smith. “One of the goals I discuss on campus is to expand, for our students and our community, intellectual and cultural opportunities to enrich, develop the mind, and establish an interest in lifelong learning and intellectual stimulation. This is the kind of programming that is happening and needs to continue to happen at Ohio University Lancaster. However, the key to strengthening and enhancing these initiatives is the financial support of our alumni, friends, and community. I want to bring more great minds, great thinkers, great artists and great performers to campus to develop and enrich all that come to learn here either as a student or a lifelong learner of our community.”

The cost of the event was $50 per person and all proceeds benefit the OUL Arts and Culture Fund as part of The Promise Lives campaign. The campaign, which ends in June, 2015, is a $450 million fundraising initiative at Ohio University to support scholarships, faculty, the student experience, facilities and community outreach. So far, it has raised more than $419 million in support of these priorities.

On the Lancaster Campus, funds are being raised to support scholarships, arts and culture, facilities and future endeavors through planned giving.

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