Art Center Gala Raises $73,000

The Salina Art Center’s annual gala, the biggest fundraising event of the year, was a success.

According to the organization, it was a “case to remember » as the Salina Art Center held its annual fundraising gala to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the art center cinema. The Oscar-themed soiree welcomed guests in their best red carpet attire and raised more than $73,000 to support the art center’s programs funded by the Salina Art Center Endowment Foundation.

Among the highlights of the evening was the recognition of Art Center projectionist Gary Chrisbens, who celebrates 70 years as a projectionist at Salina. Gary spent most of his career at long-closed downtown Salina theaters like Vogue and Fox (now the Stiefel Theater for the Performing Arts). He also worked at 81 Drive-In on the south side of Salina for 17 years, where he became manager at 18.

After Chrisbens’ last movie theater, Vogue closed in 1994, he decided to retire from acting. But the retirement was short-lived. He has been a projectionist at the Art Center Cinema, 150 S. Santa Fe since the theater opened in 1997 and has no plans to leave anytime soon.

The evening also included a world premiere short film.

THE MAGIC OF CINEMA takes a couple on an adventure. Recreations of the greatest movies of all time, including many of those shown at the Art Center Cinema, take guests on the roller coaster of emotions that great movies evoke. Written and directed by Devin Frederking, Fili Creative brought these moments to life with lots of local flavor. Fili shared the story of the Art Center Cinema as it is felt but never seen before. THE MAGIC OF CINEMA features John Robison and Erin Fox. Special appearances by Heather & Boyd Smith, Joe Riley, Heather Greene and Gary Chrisbens.

The short is slated for public release over the weekend again, February 18-21, ahead of regular film screenings of THE JOCKEY (2022) At the movie theater. Viewers can also catch the encore on the Salina Art Center YouTube channel at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 18. Advance tickets for THE JOCKEY can be purchased online at

Proceeds from the annual gala enable hundreds of children and adults to attend classes, workshops and special programs each year through the Salina Art Center and Salina Art Center Cinema. Studies show that arts programming improves the health and well-being of an entire community and the overall academic performance of its youngest citizens.

Photos by: Hannah Crickman

Click on the pictures to enlarge