An Evening of the Arts

It all began at the Round Table-not King Arthur's, but Hilton Head Island's Red Piano Gallery Round Table, surrounded with Lowcountry artists. In the '70s and '80s, these recognized artists of the Red Piano Art Gallery gathered about their Round Table weekly. They tossed around creative ideas and substantiated their own legends in cherished art.

According to Joe Bowler, one of the original artists of the Round Table and annual contributer to "Evening of the Arts," Terry Plumb, the Island Packet editor, attended one of the Round Table meetings and presented the idea of an Evening of the Arts. He suggested that it feature live and silent auctions of the original works submitted by Lowcountry artists, who were given the option to retain a portion of the proceeds and donate the balance to the Island School Council for the Arts. "This ensured artists would contribute their best paintings," noted Joe. He and his wife, Marilyn, raised the torch, highlighting the island with their generosity and enthusiasm over the idea of educating children in the arts.
The first elegant "Evening of the Arts," over 35 years ago, drew many islanders, dressed in their finest, to the beloved Hilton Head Inn. So successful was the event it became an annual fall date, anticipated with great enthusiasm. Contributions from Lowcountry artists grew to incredible numbers, as did the attendance and funds available to support improved education in the performing arts in Beaufort County Schools.
According to Dr. Helen Ryan, incoming Island School Council board president and retired principal of Hilton Head Island High School, a review of statistics in 2007 revealed that, because of donations, scholarships and grants made available as a result of Evening of the Arts, more than 10,000 students from kindergarten through high school south of the Broad River received more than twice the education in the arts than those north of the Broad. "It's wonderful to be able to offer our students programs exposing them to a variety of visual and performing arts-related residencies, which would not have been affordable without the funds provided," she said. "Over the years, the schools, including public, private and home school sectors, have received over $2 million in funds toward the arts education programs. Since my retirement, Evening of the Arts is my favorite activity, as arts education truly enhances our students' lives and allows them to find themselves."
Linda Constantino, a long time supporter and participant in organizing the evening recalled the early days. "This was a new community, and it was difficult to get the arts to happen. But this event was extremely instrumental in establishing the arts in our community," she said. "It generated such support in every direction." She paused, recalling an especially poignant year. "It was the fall of the 9/11 attacks, and we were truly concerned about our world and the problems confronting us. It was a difficult challenge pulling the evening together, but the support was overwhelming. The first piece on the auction was the American flag, and the response was amazing. The overall feeling was that creativity makes us more human, and it was important to move in that direction and encourage our children. Everyone felt the warmth of their friends, and they were thankful to be together for such a good cause."
The rewards are many as Dr. Ryan reiterated, "When we bring artists and speakers into the classroom, it's enlightening to watch the students evaluating and commenting about the arts and to see their eyes light up with all the realization of what they could accomplish."
Linda Constantino noted, "Historically, all the funds generated were matched by the South Carolina Arts Commission. 'Evening of the Arts' is a solid arts tradition and a winning situation in which people gather to enjoy the warmth of friendships-all our talented artists in one venue-and support the arts in education programs for our children."
The key to the longevity and success of this sparkling evening is directly linked to the dedication of volunteers comprising the Island School Council for the Arts, those implementing the event and particularly the artists whose continuing support and valuable time make the event possible through their stunning contributions. "Evening of the Arts" is a gathering of old and new friends, joining hands for the future to ensure arts education and progress for our children.

Simply Stated:

What: An Evening of the Arts When: Saturday, September 27 at 6:00 P.M. Details: A cocktail reception kicks off the evening at 6:00 P.M. including live music by jazz/blues singer Jan Spencer, and a chance to preview the fabulous works exhibited. The silent auction also opens at 6:00, followed by the exciting live auction at 7:45 P.M. Where: The lovely historic Honey Horn Plantation in the Coastal Discovery Museum on the north end of Hilton Head Island. What to Wear: Cocktail attire -black-tie is not suggested Before the Event: All of the art created for the event will be available for public viewing beginning Saturday, September 6th at the Coastal Discovery Museum open Monday-Saturday 9-4:30 and Sunday 11-3:00. How Much: Tickets are $100 per person Reservations: Call the Island School Council for the Arts at 843-681-5381 More Info: Be Sure to Say Hello To: Honorary Chairpersons this year are our cherished artist and journalist, Walter and Margaret Greer, Hilton Head Island household names for more than 30 years. Final Word: Drop in and find a favorite painting and be ready to bid quickly, as these works slip away when decisions are delayed!

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