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Westglow Makes $7M Commitment to Enhance ASU Arts

Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, center, shares a hug with Bonnie Schaefer, left, and Jamie Schaefer following the announcement of their $7 million commitment that will refurbish Farthing Auditorium at Appalachian State University and support An Appalachian Summer Festival’s popular music series. Photo by Marie Freeman

June 11, 2012. A $7 million commitment from Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer, residents of Boca Raton, Fla., who own Westglow Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock, will greatly enhance the arts at Appalachian State University. Their gift will support the refurbishing of Farthing Auditorium and provide continued resources for the popular music series during An Appalachian Summer Festival.

The refurbished venue will be named The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.

This new gift is among the largest single gifts ever made to Appalachian, which launched the $200 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Appalachian, in October 2011 to improve academics, athletics and the arts for current and future students.

The refurbishing of Farthing Auditorium will address issues of safety, accessibility, and enhancement of the performance experience. 

Among the planned improvements are the installation of an elevator to provide access to the mezzanine and balcony seating areas, improvements to the venue’s acoustics and sound system, re-sloping of the floor on the main level to optimize audience visibility, improved access to seats, a mechanized orchestra pit, additional restrooms, and cosmetic upgrades to the lobby and performance hall. 

Renovations will begin at the conclusion of An Appalachian Summer Festival’s 2012 season, with completion set for June 2013. Campus events typically scheduled in Farthing Auditorium, including the 2012-13 Performing Arts Series, will be staged in other venues across campus.

Farthing Auditorium is the university’s primary performance location and serves both campus and the community. It was built in 1976 and seats 1,734. 

The Schaefers’ gift also includes continued programming support for An Appalachian Summer Festival. Westglow Resort & Spa has been a lead sponsor of the festival since 2007 and has helped bring to campus major acts such as Patti LuPone, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Bruce Hornsby, Ralph Stanley and k.d. lang.

“We love our community, we love the arts and we love the university,” said Bonnie Schaefer who serves on An Appalachian Summer Festival’s advisory board and who recently was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the university.

Her partner, Jamie Schaefer, said, “It gives us great personal pleasure to support this program. If it brings everyone as much pleasure as it does us, it’s a win-win… We feel very honored to be the next generation to continue the legacy established by Arnold and Muriel Rosen and other founders of An Appalachian Summer Festival.”  Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer are members of the Campaign for Appalachian Steering Committee.

In addition to their longtime support of the arts, the Schaefers have also supported the university’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, the Leon Levine Distinguished Professorship. 

About the Festival
An Appalachian Summer Festival, the university’s nationally acclaimed summer arts celebration,

began in 1984 as a chamber music festival and has developed over the years to become one of the nation’s largest regional multi-arts festivals with more than 27,000 people in attendance each year. The festival was recently featured in The New York Times and US Airways Magazine.

Presented by the Appalachian State University Office of Arts & Cultural Programs, the annual arts celebration is held every July on and around the university campus, and features an eclectic, diverse mix of music, dance, theatre, visual arts and film programming.

The 2012 festival season will feature a diverse artist line-up, including Bill Cosby, Creedence Clearwater Revisited with special guest Lee Brice, Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, Linda Eder, The Travelin’ McCourys, Sierra Hull and Highway 111, Solas, Carolina Ballet, the Eastern Festival Orchestra with conductor Gerard Schwarz, and the Broyhill Chamber Ensemble, as well as a variety of theatre, film and visual arts programming.

More information about the festival and the festival’s Schaefer Popular Series, is online at appsummer.org.