Festival Banner (the Arts Festival blog)

Blake and Linda Gall with Luis Enrique Guiterrez, winner of the 2013 Arete Best in Show Award

Looking back on the thirty-plus years since she and her young family moved to State College from Manhattan, Linda Gall measures the passage of time alongside her Arts Festival experiences. Her girls were just toddlers when her neighbor Renee Marks invited her to first volunteer with the Festival. The people that she met, from the volunteers, to the artists and the performers, made her work with the Festival fun.

As her daughters grew (and danced on the Festival Shell Stage on Old Main Lawn!), Linda enjoyed a leadership role at the Festival. It was time for the Festival’s board to transition from a hands-on group of volunteers who managed all aspects of the Festival, to a governing Board overseeing a professional staff. Hiring a new executive director to help with that transition was a major milestone when she served as the Festival’s Vice-President.

In her four years as President of the Board in the early 1990s, Linda worked “lots of hours” on the Festival. She and husband Blake developed great friendships with several artists. “The Festival became near and dear to our hearts. Bringing all of that talent and creativity to our town was one of the things that made living here so special.”

Linda and Blake decided to support the Festival and its exhibiting artists by sponsoring the Arete Best of Show Award for the Festival’s Sidewalk Sale & Exhibition. Shortly afterward, they endowed the prize by setting up a fund at the Centre Foundation. Their generosity will reward some of the most promising visual artists in the country long into the future.

According to Linda, “We have a whole scrapbook of photos with the prize winners, and we always try to buy something from them.” Their collection of Festival art evokes powerful memories of who they were, where their family was, and what was important in their lives at the time.

“It is a special pleasure for us to be able to fund the prize, and now we’d like to do even more.” In her humble way, Linda came back to the office after a committee meeting last fall and shared a new idea with the Festival staff that she and Blake had been dreaming up for the Festival’s 50th anniversary.

Linda and Blake have made a pledge of $50,000 to our endowment to challenge other supporters to make planned gifts to support the Festival.

When donors name the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in their estate plans, they become members of the new “Celebrations Circle”, a giving society named after the Festival, and its younger sibling, First Night State College. Blake and Linda will match each Celebrations Circle member’s commitment with $2,500 of their pledge.

“We hope to recognize twenty inaugural members of the Celebrations Circle at this year’s Festival Awards Ceremony at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 15 at the Allen Street Stage. After we learn the names of this year’s most talented winning artists and award them their well-deserved prizes, we will turn the tables and allow our artists, volunteers, and staff to recognize our most dedicated donors,” said Linda.

“Reflecting back, I realized not only how much the Arts Festival means to this community, but also what it means to me personally. I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy all that the Arts Festival has to offer. If you like it, look into volunteering as a way to deepen your experience. And by all means, buy a button or give a donation. Without the support of our many Festival-going friends, we just couldn’t offer such a wonderful community tradition to all who come.”

Linda and Blake’s legacy in this community now extends far beyond the Festival, but we are glad that Linda chose volunteering at the Arts Festival as her first way to make State College a better place.

We can help you find a way to get involved too. Call our office at (814) 237-3682 or email jshuey@arts-festival.com to explore how you can make a difference.

If you have already included the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in your estate plans in some way, or if you would like more information on how you can very simply do so now and become an inaugural member of the Celebrations Circle, please contact Jennifer at (814) 237-3682 or jshuey@arts-festival.com.  I am happy to help in any way I can.