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Come dance the night away, enjoy a sumptuous dinner AND support local young artists all in one! What could be better? We'll see you there!

A Grand Night for the Arts Supports Vision Academy of the Arts

OAKHURST—In 2019 Vision Academy of the Arts (VAA) held its final Grand Night for the Arts prior to the Covid (and world) shutdown. When it became apparent that the world was not going to reopen any time soon, the organization went dormant.

The Beginning

Vision Academy of the Arts, breathed into life in 1994 by local legend and teacher Jackie Byers, and other community members including Sheila Adams, and Jack and Jane Gyer, exists to promote the joy of art in the Sierra Nevada mountain communities. 


In November 2022, local musician Nicole Hoke resolved to bring the organization back. Nicole, passionate about promoting and further developing an already robust artist community, determined to revive the mission envisioned by Jackie and friends. She single-handedly set about to make it happen, eventually gathering like-minded souls to join her. She currently serves as president of the VAA board.

Supporting the Academy’s efforts are board members Kimberly Conway (secretary), Terry Hoke (treasurer), Holly Fowler and Ann Hennon. While Jackie Byers no longer actively participates in VAA, she remains an honored member of the board as president-emeritus.

Scholarships, Star Awards & Summer Fine Arts Camp

Among its activities, Vision Academy of the Arts awards scholarships to mountain-area high school seniors who plan to pursue a career in the arts. Since its inception, it has awarded over $150,000 in scholarships. 

In addition to scholarships, the Academy gives out Star Awards to eighth grade students for achievement in the arts. Recipients are selected by their teachers, using criteria of the teachers’ choice. This year VAA intends to conduct a week-long multidisciplinary Summer Fine Arts Day Camp.

The number and amount of scholarships available each year, as well as funding for other activities, depends on the funds raised through donations, sponsorships and, most importantly, A Grand Night for the Arts.

Nicole says, “We get kids who went to Summer Fine Arts Camp go on to get Star Awards in 8th grade and then Scholarships as high school seniors and it is such a joy to watch them grow up and blossom in their art.”

A Grand Night for the Arts Is Back!

Although VAA gratefully accepts donations, the bulk of their funding comes from one event: The annual Grand Night for the Arts. Last year’s gala came to life just months after VAA re-established itself and achieved VAA’s goal of providing funding to support their projects for the entire year. They aim to reach that goal again in 2024, supported, as well, by event sponsors including SierraTel, Summit Real Estate, Wellco Drilling and Yosemite Gateway Art Center.

When and Where?

This year’s Grand Night for the Arts takes place on Saturday, April 13, 2024, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Coarsegold Community Center. Tickets cost $75 per person and include a sumptuous dinner catered by Taste the Tradition. Come dance the night away to live music featuring Tommy Harkinrider on guitar with his roots and blues musical styling. Accompanying Tommy are Kevin McHatton on drums and Jon Croffon on bass. The evening also includes presentations by some of this year’s scholarship candidates. A no-host bar is available featuring beer and wine. Rounding out the event is a silent auction with a number of special items donated for the evening. 

Tickets Available

Get tickets for Grand Night for the Arts here, at $75 per person, which includes dinner and entertainment. 

Scholarships Receive Bulk of Funds

Although the Grand Night for the Arts provides funding for VAA operating expenses, the bulk of funds raised go toward scholarships which are awarded to high school seniors who intend to major or minor in fine arts, performing arts, or culinary arts.

This year’s candidates include a dancer, a musician, a filmmaker, a digital artist, and a journalist.

Sponsorship Opportunities Still Available

It’s not too late for businesses to sponsor this event. Participating businesses will be featured on the VAA website, have a logo in the program and tickets to the event (depending on the level of sponsorship). The most important benefit; however, is the gratification of supporting the goals of future artists in a variety of media.

Volunteers and Donations Invited

Volunteers are always welcome and much appreciated. There are many ways you can lend a helping hand, either behind the scenes or at events.

If you wish to help monetarily, Vision Academy of the Arts holds a 501(c)3 status, so donations are tax deductible.

Contact for More Information

Vision Academy of the Arts can be reached via their website or by email. You can also call (559) 760-3824 or visit their Facebook page for latest updates.

Photo courtesy of Vision Academy of the Arts.


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