Gala Helps Students Dream Big

May 16, 2017

The Gala at the Galleries features artwork up for auction and more.
Credit Friends of the Arts

At a time when student debt continues to escalate, the annual Gala at the Galleries event takes some of the sting out of paying for a fine arts education at Illinois State University.

The Friends of the Arts hosts Gala at the Galleries to raise funds for scholarships and grants for ISU students studying theater, dance, music and art.  Getting an education is expensive enough, but when you add in the costs associated with art supplies, scripts, books of music and so forth, a grant from the FOA can make a real difference in moving from a creative vision to a reality. 

Artist Dylan Welch (l) and Brian Huonker form Friends of the Arts.
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

"Every year we were rolling out scholarships to help students get to the university, " explained Brian Huonker from the Friends of the Arts. "Once they got here, just the rising costs of materials resulted in their needing some extra income.  So we stepped in to help that."

Just the process of applying for grants is also beneficial for students, noted Huonker. "If they're going to choose to go out into the professional world to a career in the arts, grant writing is a staple of what they're going to have to do. By working with us, they're learning how to write those grants in the future." 

Dylan Welch is a printmaker and a two-time recipient of a Friends of the Arts grant. "It's very expensive to be an arts student," Welch admitted.    "Materials get very expensive. As you're planning a project, you can start to feel like things are closing in on you and you can't dream quite as big. So just having a little extra money helps to open the doors to bigger ideas."

With a grant from FOA, Welch was able to fund a project that allowed her to create her own paper for her work. She worked with the ISU Horticulture Center to grow paper making plants, like papyrus.  "I'm really grateful." 

The Gala at the Galleries is Saturday, May 20 from 6 to 9 PM at the University Galleries in Uptown Normal.

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