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Profant Foundation for the Arts’ Fiesta Finale Gala Returns to ‘Where It All Began’

El Paseo Restaurant, a special spot in the family's history, serves as the backdrop for the 'Celebrating Vintage Fiestas'-themed benefit event

 

As the mercados were being disassembled and with the parades over, the Profant Foundation for the Arts’ Fiesta Finale Gala was a final breath of Fiesta spirit Sunday evening at the historic El Paseo Restaurant.

The fundraising event’s theme was “Celebrating Vintage Fiestas,” so El Paseo served as the perfect venue. The program described it as “where it all began.”

The arts-oriented nonprofit organization showcased a full entertainment program featuring a variety of talented artists, many of whom have received scholarships from the Profant Foundation.

In fact, since 2000, the organization has given more than $250,000 in scholarship awards in the categories of music, dance, art, drama and literature. Beginning in 2014, the application process was refined and now focuses on the disciplines of dance, music and visual arts during a separate application period.

After being serenaded by the Martinez Brothers band during the social hour, The Piano Boys entertained the dinner crowd. Young Rhyan, 12, and Zeyn Scweyk, 14 — Profant Foundation scholarship recipients — performed piano four hands, a piano duet in which the two players play on a single piano.

“Receiving a scholarship from the foundation meant a lot," Rhyan told Noozhawk. "They are very hard to get. We are very grateful. It helped to pay for lessons and to buy chamber music. When I grow up, I want to study engineering and music and how they are related.”

New to the Fiesta Finale stage this year was Leila Drake and her dancing partner, James Folsom, accompanied by her husband, guitarist and composer, Chris Fossek. Fossek, a native of Santa Barbara, is a Top Ten Billboard charting recording artist and composer.

Piano Boys
The Piano Boys — Rhyan and Zeyn Shweyk — performed at the event. They are recipients of Profant Foundation scholarships. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

Performers also included beloved pianist Gil Rosas playing a variety of traditional Fiesta favorites. The amazing artistry of Ricardo Chavez and company performed flamenco. Heidi Gielisch and Peter Jesnen-Sabol performed cha-cha.

The foundation is guided by its officers and founders, including president Lyn Profant, secretary Dr. Mary Collier, and sisters Michele, Marie, Musette and Mignonne Profant.

The Profant family and co-chair Julie Ann Brown planned a gourmet dinner for the evening's guests, which included the main dish, a medley of beef and shrimp, accompanied by rice and fresh asparagus. Generous wine donors included Deep Sea, Brander, Windrun, Grassini and others.

The Profant family's cultural involvement in the Santa Barbara community includes launching CAMA (Community Arts Music Association), the Music Academy of the West and Old Spanish Days.

During the 1950s, Lyn Profant and her sister came to Santa Barbara during Fiesta as they had heard that it was a romantic time with parades and parties. They went to El Paseo, the heart of Fiesta activity, where a tall, handsome young man asked Lyn to dance.

The young man was John Profant, and his dance with her changed the course of both their lives. Their shared interests in the arts served to guide their path together in the community.

“My mother often told us that on their first date they went to a CAMA concert, and on the ride home on Cabrillo Boulevard in the moonlight my father sang 'La Vie en Rose' to her with his beautiful voice," said Marie Profant, one of their four daughters. "Continuing to honor John Profant's generosity and interest in the arts, the John E. Profant Foundation was founded and is celebrating its 19th year as a nonprofit organization.

"The foundation has awarded hundreds of scholarships to developing artists from 9 to 75 years of age. Proceeds from the gala and community support go towards scholarships."

The mission of the Profant Foundation for the Arts is preserving Santa Barbara’s cultural heritage and assisting artists of all ages in the community, through scholarships, exhibits and performances.

Click here for more information, or call 805.682.8184.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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