Never in our community’s history has theater — and the whole spectrum of the arts — been so thriving and alive in the Tri-Cities. From discussions about new performing arts venues, to the outstanding performances of all of our Tri-City arts groups, we are clearly on the verge, as community, of our most artistic and spectacular debut yet. At Columbia Basin College, we are proud to be a catalytic partner in this momentum. Our role in the arts is quite simple — education. And we do that in several exciting ways.
First, we produce artists now and for our future — whether they stay here in the Tri-Cities or go on for further study and careers in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, etc. In our recent and highly successful production of Richard III, the burgeoning talents of our students were nurtured by performing side-by-side with renowned industry leaders, whether playing original music composed by Reg Unterseher, or working with Ken Merckx, a Los Angeles-based actor sought-after nationally for film and Shakespearean theater companies for his expertise in fight choreography.
We also believe that arts education is not just for artists, but for everyone. By providing enriching continuing education and artistic offerings, together we experience a richer quality of life and community vitality. So whether one is young or old, new to the arts or an aficionado, the CBC Arts program is the place to dabble — or dive in!
What’s on the horizon at CBC? On the immediate front, our Summer Showcase is starting to sizzle with a new “look.” Stay tuned as we venture outside onto a new outdoor venue with intimate “open air” dinner theater in June with the musical SUDS. Imagine enjoying dinner at linen-covered tables while experiencing a Broadway production of songs from the ’60s around a delightful plot of a young woman in a laundry mat aided by two fairy godmothers. Sound intriguing? Then wait until you experience our summer production of The Rocky Horror Show. We’re already getting a lineup for auditions of students and community members.
The theater department will continue to be committed to our role in supporting arts in the schools. We are proud of all of our many CBC alumni who now serve as arts teachers in Tri-City schools and beyond. In addition, our annual Dixon Play Festival remains one of the largest juried competitions in Washington, allowing high school theater students to expand their performance excellence. And The Blue Ladder Players, the CBC children’s troupe now in its 32nd year, continues to tour eastern Washington, bringing children’s literature to life for more than 8,000 elementary students annually.
Jazz Unlimited, a juried competition that includes music clinics and visiting artists, is held over two weekends in April each year. It brings together more than 4,500 middle and high school music students. Through this venue, the Tri-Cities impacts young talent from high schools throughout the Northwest.
CBC’s visual arts program will once again host ESD123’s State Art Show and Competition with more than 200 entries from our region’s high schools. The finalists compete in Olympia with their works displayed in the Capitol’s rotunda. Our Esvelt Gallery continues to hold an annual juried art show featuring the works of CBC novice artists. Several of these works are displayed throughout CBC and also in prominent public facilities throughout the region.
None of this would be possible without the talented community volunteers who support all of our efforts — whether on stage as performers or back stage from “grips” to donors — or without the incredible arts faculty of CBC — gifted educators who work each day to inspire our next generation of artistic leaders.
Lastly, CBC applauds all those who support the arts in the Tri-Cities. For everything, there is a season. It is here before us. May we all work together to unite and bring theater, music and the visual arts to a resounding crescendo in 2015!