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Argyros Performing Arts Center Future Looks Bright Thanks to You
Elizabeth Tierney stands before displays advertising some of the acts coming to The Argyros this summer.
Monday, July 8, 2024


It was billed as “Red, White & You.” And by the time The Argyros’ Fourth of July fundraiser was over, the patrons who comprised the “you” had pitched in more than $485,000 in support of the arts.

The amount was above the $300,000 goal that the performing arts center had set to ensure that it could continue to bring in performers that normally would be seen only in big cities.

“You’ve inspired us to continue our mission,” Casey Mott told the audience.

Holbrook Newman and Geoff Isles have a little fun during a photo op.

The Tierney Theater was decked out in checkered red table cloths illuminated with lights in mason jars. The walls were papered with the look of an old barn, and lights were strung above the tables as is seen in wedding receptions held in old barns. Red, white and blue stars dotted the wall above hosted bars serving margaritas and other drinks in mason jars.

It all set the stage for Idaho’s own Micky & the Motorcars, which would play their brand of hard-driving country music later.

“Tonight was themed ‘Red, White and You’ for a reason,” Claudia McCain told the audience. “You can’t create arts in a vacuum.”

McCain, who has performed in 75 plays and served on the Ketchum Arts Commission and The Liberty Theater Company board, said that when she moved to the valley permanently in 1979, there were just two arts organizations—Laughing Stock Theatre and Sun Valley Center for the Arts, now the Sun Valley Museum of Arts.

The Argyros was decorated red, white and blue since the fundraiser was held on the eve before July Fourth.

Now, there are at least 25 arts organizations, not including art galleries and artists’ studios.

“In the early ‘90s I told the chamber that one day people were going to come here for the arts, not recreation. So, when I see the town blowing up in August for the symphony, when I see the ballet sold out, when I see Ketch’em Alive full…I think people are coming for the art, then they get to recreate.”

The Argyros has entertained more than 100,000 people since it opened in late 2019.

“Without you, there is no us,” said Board President Dave Olsen. “Since we opened in late 2019, over 100,000 of us have come to be entertained—that’s one in 15 Idahoans.”

Gayle and Bob Hall say they love seeing Time for Three perform at The Argyros. “They started here, rose to great heights but always come back,” said Bob.

The theater has been used for 500 days over the past five years, despite being shuttered for months by the pandemic. It’s presented 200 artists, including more than 30 winners of Grammys, Tonys and Oscars. In addition, it’s served as a place for nonprofit organizations to stage fundraisers so they can carry out their missions.

“The Argyros has opened so many new doors through which we can tell our stories,” said R.L. Rowsey. “Art matters in the middle of Idaho,” added Melodie Taylor-Mauldin.

McCain recounted how Tim Mott, a longtime supporter of the arts in Sun Valley, had watched the community evolve, then combined his own vision with suggestions from the community to establish The Argyros as a place that could provide a sense of place and bring joy to those who walked through its doors, making accessible productions that typically play in much bigger cities.

She quoted French artist Edgar Degas, who once said, ‘Art is not what you see but what you make others see.’ And I would add, ‘What you make possible for others to see.’ ”

“Yes, we charge tickets, but we need your support to continue our mission,” said Argyros Board President   Dave Olsen.

The crowd responded by bidding $10,500 for a Beach Boys package and $10,000 for a Lyle Lovett package before coming up with $8,000 for a package featuring three different performances by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

“The card would match your dress, the auctioneer told one woman as she auctioned off a Red Card that provided two seats to every performance at The Argyros, along with complementary drinks.

Supporters bid $12,000 for seven nights for six in a Tuscan villa with the promise of handmade pizzas and more, while seven nights for eight in Bali with a daily chauffeur and private chef went for $12,000. Even the Paddle Up pledges came with perks, such as the opportunity for a Red Card or private night at The Argyros.

“I’m a classical pianist and I would have to say I love all the ballet they bring here,” said Jami Grassi. “The performance by Isabella Boylston, who grew up here, was one of my favorites, and I also loved the percussion concert that the Sun Valley Music Festival had here.”

“We like the versatility of the performances,” said Gayle Hall, a longtime supporter along with her husband Bob Hall. “We divide our time between Sun Valley and Yakima, and every time we come to Sun Valley we look to find what’s happening at the Argyros.”

“We’ve been supporting The Argyros since the beginning,” added Bob Hall. “It was needed and it’s used.”

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