Arts by George! provides an evening like no other

Arts by George! is an annual fundraising event for the College of Visual and Performing Arts in hopes of raising funds for student scholarships and equipment (Photo courtesy of Arts by George!).
Arts by George! is an annual fundraising event for the College of Visual and Performing Arts in hopes of raising funds for student scholarships and equipment (Photo courtesy of Arts by George!).

In its seventh year, Mason’s annual Arts by George! event was held on September 29 in the Center for Performing Arts, the Delaski Performing Arts Building, Harris Theater, as well as outside by the Mason statue. The event involved students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the outside community.

Brian Marcus, associate dean of development for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, said that “the whole idea [of the event] is to bring the arts at Mason into the community to support students in school.”

“The School of Art is doing a wonderful new exhibit of student and faculty work that will be bigger than it has ever before,” said Marcus. “It’s really a year-long process, and we began planning this year’s Arts by George! last November and formed a steering community made up of volunteers and several staff members and begin to connect with each academic discipline in the college.”

Ayana Reed, senior music performance major in voice, participated in the event as part of the University Singers, one of the choirs that will be performing at this year’s event.   

“I think this is the first year in a while, if ever, that the full choir will be performing there. Usually the opera program, which is about 15 students total, is the designated group to sing at Arts by George!” said Reed. This year the full choir performed three selctions in the lobby of the Center for the Arts as people went to see the main event of the night.

(Sutton Foster doing a sound check before her performance at this year's Arts by George! event. Photo courtesy of the Center for the Arts Twitter).

This year’s guest artist was Broadway star Sutton Foster. A two-time Tony Award-winner, Foster won for her roles in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and the revival of "Anything Goes." She has been on several other Broadway shows and has released several studio albums. She performed songs from her newest album which will be released next year, along with a medley of the title song "Anyone Can Whistle,“ from the musical of the same name and "Being Alive” from Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company.”

Foster included her song "Air Conditioner," a humorous song about her affection for men with air conditioners, which includes lyrics such as, "All you need is an air conditioner, and you're the man for me."

Foster also sang with special guest Megan McGinnis who played her young sister Beth in the musical “Little Women.” 

Foster’s performance ended with two encores after several standing ovations from a packed crowd.

However, Foster wasn’t the only highlight of the event. Students also performed at the event.

“One thing we’re doing this year is highlighting [the] music from 'Into the Woods'...[and] involve students from the Mason symphony and theater,” said Marcus. The performances of "Into the Woods" previewed the first musical that the College of Visual and Performing Arts will be doing, which will premiere in late October.

Arts by George! tried to give the event a modern feel by featuring different technologies to create high-tech music such as an event focused on game design and music. It also added the element of dance with some students demonstrating how to prepare a dance piece.

“It’s a really unique event,” said Marcus. “A lot of places have fundraising events and dress up and you sit around a table and listen to speakers. We just didn’t want to do anything like that. We wanted to have an evening like no other, and it really is. You are always moving around.”

“This is growing every year,” said Marcus. “Over the six years of Arts by George! we have raised over $800,000.”

The College of Visual and Performing Arts is hoping that Saturday’s event earned them a record amount of funds this year to help purchase equipment and give scholarship money to some of their students.

Connect2Mason's Entertainment Editor, Helena Okolicsanyi, contributed to this piece. 

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