The United Arts Appeal for Chautauqua County kicked off the South County element of its annual fund appeal Friday evening at the Reg Lenna Civic Center. It did so by presenting a performance called ''Kaleidoscope.''
The UAA opened the North County version of its appeal earlier in February with a similar performance at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House.
The idea of the evening was to arouse interest in supporting the UAA by demonstrating the quality and the diversity of the arts in the area.
Each year, the UAA collects money from individuals, from businesses and from foundations, and divides it among the eight regular member organizations from our county. It then gives further, smaller grants to individual artists and to organizations for specific projects in the arts.
The central idea of Kaleidoscope was for each of the eight member organizations to give a brief demonstration of what it offers to our community, throughout the county, throughout the year.
It is ironic, that if one attempts to picture an ideal ladder, it would have a top step, a bottom step, and many steps in the middle. Many arts organizations in other areas organize their support like a ladder which has only a top step, with organizations competing to prove that they have the highest quality offered.
Locally, the UAA supports organizations which give a boost to beginners, and those which advance the best of local performers, while bringing in the finest possible of professional art. That's a healthy and wise approach.
Introducing each act, and keeping the audience delighted and entertained while instruments and equipment were rolled onto and off the stage, were three of the members of the Unexpected Guests, a locally based impromptu comedy troupe.
Rather than review each element of the performance individually, I will simply say that each presentation was strong and well-prepared and presented. I only have names and descriptions which were printed in the small program which was handed out at the door, so I apologize in advance for any name which might not be here. The omission was not intentional.
The evening began with representatives of the ''Folk in Fredonia'' program, which was one of the many programs which that lovely facility offers to us. Kent and Nanette Knappenberger, together with two of their lovely daughters and a friend, sang, played harp, vertical flute, tin whistle, guitar, and did Celtic clog dancing.
Jeff Erickson, Nate Arnone and Jay Peterson, represented the Reg Lenna Civic Center, performing on guitars and singing original compositions. They called themselves ''the evening's only rock group.''
Pretty Lily Ellis sang and played guitar, and a handsome, young pianist whose name was said but not printed, performed as well. I believe his name was Dalton Lamphere. They were among the nearly 1,000 young people who have benefited from the Infinity Visual and Performing Arts organization in the past year.
Four representatives of the Western New York Chamber Orchestra sang and performed three Scottish folk tunes, as composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. A special treat was the rich and wonderful singing of Julie Newell, who has not been performing for some time. It is a delight and an honor to have her back on a local stage.
Four talented actors from the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown performed four short scenes from one of their most recent productions, ''A Few Good Men,''by Aaron Sorkin. It was one of the most riveting and exciting presentations of the evening.
A video clip reminded the audience of the quality of professional performers, brought to our community by the Jamestown Concert Assn. The Syracuse Symphony, the Chestnut Brass Ensemble, pianist Lara Downes, local organist Josh Stafford, and many more first-rate performers who have been here in recent years made for an impressive display of the quality of the all-volunteer organization's offerings.
Dancers from the Chautauqua Region Youth Ballet demonstrated three scenes from their annual, blockbuster production of the ballet ''Nutcracker.'' The beauty of their costumes, the discipline and grace of their movement was astounding. And, they were so young.
Members of the Chautauqua Chamber Singers, one of the member organizations of the Community Music Project, donned their costumes from the Renaissance to perform two offerings from their recent ''Twelfth Night'' production, which is always such a thrilling closing to the holiday season.
I can't say enough about the variety and quality of the arts in our area. You can do your share for the local arts by sending a check to The United Arts Appeal, 715 Falconer St., Jamestown, NY 14701, or by clicking on ''Support UAA'' at their web site: www.UnitedArtsAppeal.org.