Awaiting An Evening On Safari

After enduring the pandemic shutdown, the Bosque Arts Center puts on its 39th Annual Big Event fundraiser April 10 as the showcase of a fun-filled weekend

CLIFTON – There are fundraisers, and then there are FUNdraisers – evenings filled with excellent entertainment, good food and drink, abundant laughter and dancing. At the Bosque Arts Center, they have elevated their annual fundraising to an art form and have created an event the movers and shakers in Bosque County love to attend, year after year.

For the 39th Annual Big Event this year, the organizers are inviting their guests to an exciting “Evening on Safari” on Saturday, April 10 after a fun-filled Big Game Casino Night on Friday, April 9 (Read the complete story "Vegas On The Bosque" here: So grab your pith helmets and other safari attire – leave the elephant gun at home – and set out on an adventure with food, adult beverages, drinks.

Each outstandingly organized and executed evening is centered on communicating the vision and dream of the BAC, always remembering its history and the special lady who had the original dream– Joan Spieler. More than anyone, energetic motivator Spieler was the founder of the BAC, even though she herself down played her role.

Months of planning looks effortless in the themed Big Event fundraising evenings. The organizing committee comes up with new exciting theme ideas each year to keep donors from getting disinterested. Throughout the years, the concept was changed, from a two-day affair to one activity-packed evening, and in 2019 – staying with the technology of the times – adding the online auction.

The official 38th Annual Big Event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, but the BAC is happy to invite patrons to another two-day celebration of the cultural center – a Big Event Weekend.

With this year’s theme “Evening on Safari,” a safari is only as good as its guides and Serengeti has seen its share of safaris. It’s a jungle out there and there’s music everywhere when Serengeti is in the house. Led by veteran music ranger Brian Barrett, this musical aggregation will make you want to dance the night away. Come enjoy favorite tunes from Classic Rock to Country, Texas Swing to R&B.

Six months before she passed away, Spieler received the first BAC Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication and tireless input to the arts center. The award for exceptional volunteers of the center is now called the Joan Spieler Lifetime Achievement award. At every event, it is evident that the BAC cannot exist without its battalions of loyal, dedicated and always smiling volunteers and the ever-generous patrons that financially support the arts. Their names in the evening’s program show how many donate their time, effort and dedication to the center.

They are Joan Spieler, Orlette Watson, Karen Murphy, Roland and Joyce Jones, Sharon Knustrom, Jean Ann Smith, Bryan & Julie Davis, Bob & Marge Schafer, Dolores Miller, Shayne Embry, Phil and Chanda Robertson, Bob and Kay Lane, Steve Schmidt, Betty Murdoch, Wylie and Pat Basham, Sally and Rick Douglas, Punky and Wally Penberthy, Leanne and Lee Donner, Cleon and Carolyn Flanagan, Cheryll and Rick Lundberg. Exceptional benefactors Sue and Chester Posey have received special recognition for their financial support of the BAC over the years.

And for the Big Event, the volunteers selflessly help getting donations for the auctions, organizing the party, the entertainment and exquisite decorations, and especially helping people understand how important the arts center is for the Heart of Texas region.

“Be generous and help the magic continue at the BAC,” said BAC board member Bryan Davis said after reminiscing about the center’s humble beginnings.

Texas Troubadour Phillip Wildman even has a song, especially written for the Big Event.

“Penny pinchin’ we'll have none of it, here at the Big Event. Get out your checkbook. Raise your hand,” Wildman sings. “Who will give 500, who will give a grand? Raising money for this artsy clan, here at the Big Event. At the Big Event, we raise money ‘cos the best things in life aren’t free.”

Those who are most effective in fundraising understand that a prime motivation for those who give is the desire to create change. Donors want to see things happen, to feel that from their gifts will come meaningful results. Proceeds from the Big Event and Casino Night will help fund the Bosque Arts Center with its day-to-day operation and all the BAC endeavors.

The Bosque Arts Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit center for all facets of the visual and performing arts, the BAC is housed in a beautifully blended complex, site of the former Clifton College administration building and Gearench manufacturing plant at 215 S. College Hill Drive. 

“Look at where we are now, how far we’ve come,” Davis said. “We honor the people who made the BAC an amazing example of what people with big dreams can accomplish.”

The BAC offers a variety of clubs, workshops and events for all the culture and art-loving guests and patrons. They include:

  • The Bosque Art Classic - an annual juried & judged art show and sale hosted by the BAC Art Council. Over the years, it has become a prestigious, national show which includes entries from international artists as well. It is open to all artists who create realistic and representational art;
  • The John Stephen Jones Award is a purchase from the Art Classic, with the art becoming part of the permanent collection for the Arts Center. That makes the Roland Jones Memorial Gallery - which opened in 1989 in memory of Roland Jones's father - one of the state's most unique yet little known art galleries in Texas.
  • The Tin Building Theatre has provided family-oriented comedy, drama, and musicals for appreciative Central Texas audiences for almost 40 years. The theater, named for the metal siding which formerly housed a manufacturing plant, was formally organized by a small group of visionaries in 1981. Along the way, thousands of theater-goers, young and old alike, have experienced live theater first-hand. TBT has been described as a "working, hands-on theater," meaning that previous acting or theater experience is not necessary for involvement. TBT presents two full-length productions per season, complete with two dinner theater productions per show and usually four performances per play. More than one has termed it "one of the best rural community theaters operating in Texas today."
  • Each year nationally renowned artists and members of the Cowboy Artists of America Bruce Greene and Martin Grelle conduct a plein-air workshop in Bosque County, Texas, in the fall;
  • Summer programs for the youth like Imagination Factory, the Bosque Civic Music Association Music Camp and sewing classes;
  • Workshops in oil painting, ceramics, water color, cooking, quilting and photography organized by the different councils;
  • The annual Quilt Show – an annual awards show, including vendors and workshops;
  • Books on the Bosque – an event where renowned writers speak about their craft, explain their inspirations, offer workshops to readers and aspiring writers;
  • Bosque Chorale and the Bosque Civic Music Association diversity of musical evenings
  • The Texas Troubadour Songwriter Classic – celebrating and promoting country music songwriters and singer/songwriters by providing an opportunity for recognition of their talent. Each year the competition is judged by well known Country Music Songwriters, who perform after the judging.
  • Artist’s one-man shows;
  • and exercise classes for young and old, like yoga and karate.

The volunteerism, sponsorships, donations, and participation in the fun activities the Big Event committee plans each year keep the BAC thriving. With that background, the guests know where their donated money ends up, and they get a great party to boot. It’s not for nothing that the BAC staff calls it FUNdraising.

The auction items for the first fundraiser 38 years ago on a Sunday afternoon included a 50 pound bag of dog food, potted begonias and four pounds of sausage brought in about $3,500 and was found to be a “rousing success.”

Things have changed somewhat, with silent auction items and mystery gift bags - some with value of more than $100 - and raffle items like Primo Texas Ranger tickets.

For the second time, the e-BAC online auction took place prior to the fundraiser from March 29 – April 8. The auction will include exclusive items like a luncheon with author Lisa Wingate, eye-catching jewelry, dinners for large groups in special venues, Texas Rangers premium seating tickets, original art by renowned artists, just to name a few items. The e-BAC online auction concludes April 8.

Another addition to amp up the loss of donations in 2020, the organizers have added a rifle and ammo raffle. Sponsor tables are available for The Big Event Saturday, April 10, entertainment and dinner. Seating is limited, so make your reservations soon.

For more information, contact the Bosque Arts Center at 254-675-3724, or visit the dedicated page on their website Please consider attending this exceptional fundraiser, buy an e-auction item or do a donation and keep the arts alive in Bosque County.


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