October Gala Funds Scholarships

Seattle, WA – Cornish College of the Arts’ Gala raised more than $633,000 for scholarships while the institution celebrated recent partnerships with local tech firms and introduced supporters to new President Chris Kevorkian. Tony Award-winner LaChanze headlined the October 29 event at the Four Seasons Hotel, Seattle.

The evening began with remarks from Chair of the Board of Trustees Lawrence E. Hard followed by President Kevorkian. Arriving at Cornish in July, Kevorkian spoke movingly about how Cornish’s recent accomplishments including the addition of an eighth degree, a BFA in Interior Architecture, approved this summer.

Kevorkian also pointed out that Cornish’s Dance Department just turned 100, making it the oldest continuous dance departments in North America. This was followed by a performance from Dance alumni Sam Picart, who won the Ellen Degeneres Dance-Off this year. Picart currently teaches, choreographs, and performs all over the United States.

Also shown was a brief film about Cornish’s recent collaboration with the Microsoft HoloLens team. Presented earlier this month at the Seattle Interactive Conference, the video showed how nine student teams at Cornish College of the Arts created pieces for Microsoft’s mixed reality HoloLens headset. With Cornish’s main campus located in Seattle’s growing South Lake Union neighborhood, the college frequently partners with high-tech businesses in the region, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and the Institute of Systems Biology, to show how arts and creativity can contribute to business and science.

A special performance by LaChanze was warmly received by the audience. The previous day, she gave master classes to the theater students at Cornish’s main campus. For the students, this included not only coaching but also an opportunity to talk to LaChanze about her work on Broadway, as well as her film, television, and concert career. LaChanze received the Tony Award for leading actress in a musical for The Color Purple. She also appeared on Broadway in If/Then, Once on This Island, Ragtime, Company, and Uptown It’s Hot.

Her performance was followed by student speaker Chysanthemum Binayug, who was able to attend Cornish due to scholarships made possible by the Gala. “Cornish first came to me as a safe haven. A place and community where everyone come together for the purpose of self-discovery, accomplishment, and growth,” said Binayug. Other entertainment for the evening was provided by the Dylan Hayes Trio consisting of Cornish students Dylan Hayes and Dominic Lecouturier with Garfield High School junior Ben Feldman.

Trustee Sherry Raisbeck ’88 and her husband James Raisbeck gave $100,000 at the Gala to provide a match for the $100,000 pledged by Ed and Laura Littlefield. Support for the Gala was provided by Boeing, Foster Pepper, Bon Appetit, Amazon, Key Bank, and Howard S. Wright, A Balfour Company, Chateau Ste Michelle, and Kevin Bradford Design.