On Sunday, October 10, Archie McLaren, founder and chair of the Central Coast Wine Classic (CCWC), invited about 25 close friends and supporters to a reception at the Belmond El Encanto where he presented a check for $69,191 to the Léni Fé Bland Performing Arts Education Fund. The fund was the recipient of a Fund-a-Need Auction lot at the CCWC’s auction held on August 31st.
McLaren welcomed the guests and thanked them for their support and participation over the Wine Classic’s 31-year history. He briefly recounted the humble beginnings of the CCWC which this year had morphed into 18 events held over five days in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.
Accepting the check was Sara Miller McCune who created the fund in honor of her dear friend, Léni Fé Bland, who passed away two years ago, just shy of her 100th birthday. She recalled having impassioned discussions with Léni Fé Bland when the county eliminated performing arts programs in schools. McCune recounted how neither of them “could imagine how kids could grow up as humanitarians if they did not have access to the performing arts, if they did not experience them in that visceral way that you do when you are at a live performance.”
So McCune formed the fund to honor Bland and to provide students with access to the performing arts. She consulted with 12 different nonprofit arts groups, all of which wanted to participate, and partnered with the Santa Barbara Education Foundation (SBEF) to implement the program which started this school year.
McCune and SBEF executive director Margie Yahyavi shared how the CCWC’s donation enabled the fund to bring two practitioners from the outreach program at The Globe Theatre in London for in-school student workshops. More than 1,000 students participated and there were separate workshops for teachers. According to McCune, the students and teachers were truly dazzled and inspired, with teachers relating how they immediately ripped up their lesson plans and adopted the Globe’s.
Beginning with this school year, every 4th, 5th, and 6th grader will see two performances. Performing arts organizations will work closely with instructors to develop curriculum to be paired with each performance.
The reception also featured the introduction of Genuflection, a pinot noir with Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clendenen as vintner and McLaren as progenitor choosing the final blend. The 300 magnums are graced with artwork of Artist Yuroz. Guests reveled in sampling this fine wine. A painting by James Paul Brown, which graced the catalog of the CCWC auction this year, was auctioned off for $6,000.
This year, the CCWC also donated $94,000 collectively to the Hearst Castle Foundation, the Hearst Preservation Foundation, and Friends of Hearst Castle, and $20,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of North San Luis Obispo County.
Between 2004 when the CCWC Foundation was formed through 2016, the Foundation has presented more than $2.75 million to 129 organizations in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties whose missions are in the healing, studio, and performing arts.
There will not be a Wine Classic next year, but the 32nd Central Coast Wine Classic will be held in the summer of 2018.
For more information about the CCWC, go to centralcoastwineclassic.org. For more information about the Léni Fé Performing Arts Fund, go to sbefoundation.org/the-leni-fe-bland-performing-arts-education-fund/.
By Gail Arnold