HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - While many students are enjoying their summer vacation, some are getting a head start on the school year by preparing for September's 2009 Arts Gala.
The fundraiser is featuring the work of the University of Southern Mississippi's Art and Design and Theatre and Dance Department's as well as the School of Music.
According to the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters Denise Von Herrmann, "The first thing is we want to showcase the fact that Southern Miss has four accredited arts programs and we are one of only twenty four schools in the country that has that."
Von Herrmann said another goal of the Gala is to raise additional money to offset the impact of University budget cuts.
"For our students, the opportunity to perform in a high quality way for a live audience is their bread and butter and that's what they live for. So when we had to make small cuts in their operating budgets for these units we realized that might be in danger a little bit."
She said Gala proceeds will build up those depleted budgets, and to make sure the event meets that goal a lot of campus wide collaboration is taking place.
Lou Rackoff chairs the University's Theatre and Dance Department and said, "We are all artists in different disciplines so the idea of contributing together to one big event is actually very exciting in a lot of ways and I'm hoping it's something we will continue in the future."
One aspect of the production that will transport the audience to Paris for a night during the Moulin Rouge themed evening are the sets.
David Stellhorn, a scene shop professor helped design them to wow the crowd.
"Well I really hope they see what it is we do on the design and technical side in the theatre," said Stellhorn. "We have a lot of skills to offer the students in terms of construction and problem solving and creative sculpting and things of that nature."
If you would like to help out the arts at USM now and not wait until the September 10 event, you can according to Gala Designer and Director Mike Lopinto.
"The student friends of the arts wanted to be involved with this, and they actually got together a give a way and it is a twenty dollar ticket to win a week in Paris for two all expenses paid."
Tickets are on sale at all Southern Arena Theatre shows this summer and at the Gala itself.
For 2009 Arts Gala tickets, or Southern Arena Theatre tickets, call the University's ticket office at 1-800-844-8425.