On Friday, March 2, community members can support the local arts culture while indulging in all things chocolate at The Arts Center’s annual Chocolate Fantasy.

In addition to celebrating chocolate, the longstanding event also serves as a celebration of art and The Arts Center’s various programs.

The event includes a silent auction of items donated from local businesses and a live auction led by celebrity auctioneer Craig Robinson, Oregon State University’s men’s basketball coach. Local band Orquesta Monte Calvo will provided music.

In addition, 10 chocolatiers will participate in a chocolately competition of sorts, as well as serve chocolate samples.

In a departure from previous Chocolate Fantasies, the art auction has been replaced by an art sale.

The chocolate part of the event is sponsored by Market of Choice.

“Businesses supporting the arts is something that’s really great about Corvallis,” said David Huff, the executive director of The Arts Center. “And making sure that they have an opportunity to give back to the community is something that we provide.”

And how does chocolate relate to art?

“I think this is a chance for the chocolatiers — it’s not just about taste, it’s about fanciful constructions,” Huff said. “It’s basically industrial design on a chocolate scale.”

Proceeds from the event will go toward all of The Arts Center’s arts programs: public programs that help with exhibitions and art shop events, education programs that focus on at-risk youth and the Artscare program, which brings artists to local hospitals in partnership with Samaritan Health Services.

Each year, Chocolate Fantasy showcases one of The Arts Center’s programs, and so this year’s event focused on Artscare, with a special auction scheduled.

The Artscare program provides an outlet for hospital patients to connect with art, and is set up in several departments at Good Samaritan, including the cancer ward, dialysis ward and mental health ward. Artscare provides about 1,400 hours of artist and patient activities per year.

The program allows for professional artists from around Linn and Benton counties to lead a number of activities in the wards. Sometimes activities are specifically designed for the ward. For example, in the dialysis ward where patients have only one free arm — the other is hooked up to the dialysis machine — Artscare held a mosaic-making session, an activity that could easily be done with one hand. Sometimes activities are centered around just one-on-one drawing.

“Our mission is to integrate arts into daily life,” Huff said. “I think that to do that effectively we can’t just wait for people to come into The Arts Center.”

“Everybody deserves to have their life touched by art,” he said. “To really do that, we have to go to where people are. Maybe that’s going to school sites or to the hospital — it’s one of the ways we can really engage with people at a time when I think they need support. It’s a stressful situation to be in the hospital. And I think one of the powers of art is to lift you above your day-to-day struggles.”

Some of the money raised will go toward areas of the program that aren’t covered by grants, such as paying for the staffing needed to run the programs. That includes paying the professional artists who lead the various Artscare programs. (“As a hub of the creative economy in Corvallis, we really believe that professional artists deserve to be paid for their work,” Huff said.)

Funds will also go toward expanding the Artscare program so that it can be available to more patients.

“(Artscare) is going great in the couple of wards we are in, but, for example, at dialysis we’re there three days a week. So if you happen to take dialysis on Tuesday or Thursday, you don’t have access to arts,” Huff said. “There’s a lot of unmet need.”

Chocolate Fantasy takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, March 2, in the Club Level of Reser Stadium, Southwest 26th Street and Southwest Western Boulevard. Admission is $75 per person; tickets can be purchased online at www.theartscenter.net/cf until Thursday, March 1.


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