2018 Champions of the Arts Gala

The Arts Council would like to thank everyone who helped to make our
2018 Champions of the Arts Gala a success!

Check out the photo gallery(photo credit: Richard Green Photography)

2018 Champs Logo rev

Saturday, February 3, 2018 I Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
5:00 – 9:00pm

View Gala Menu

Click on each image to view a video interview with our Champions of the Arts. 

2018 Official Printed Program Guide — Click for Champions Bios, sponsor listings and Arts Council Program Details

WALT deFARIALifetime Achievement

Photo Walt DeFaria rev

Walt deFaria’s career includes motion picture, television and theatrical projects. He is best known nationally for his role as executive producer of the magical “The Borrowers” films. As a producer, director, teacher and philanthropist locally, Walt has worked with the Forest Theater Guild, Monterey Symphony, Pacific Repertory Theater, Forest Theater Foundation, Monterey Peninsula College, Dance Kids, Carl Cherry Center and more! Throughout, he has been a mentor, leader and guide – sharing his knowledge of business, love of everything theater and music and joy for life and art.  His caring and generosity has touched generations of Central Coast lives.



Ellen is the Executive Director of First Night Monterey since 2005.  She is an accomplished arts administrator, creative director and event producer committed to making the arts more accessible to everyone in Monterey County. As part of the First Night Artworks! Outreach program, Ellen helped establish the Greenfield Cultural Arts Center in 2014 and continues to direct the Greenfield Harvest Festival. She also co-directs the Mi Vida/Mi Pueblo and Arts is the Next Peace projects in Monterey County with Kira Carrillo Corser. Ellen has a BA in                                                                                Creative Arts and Communication from the University of Illinois.

Volunteer Leader

Ramón Silva Ruelas has dedicated his life to teaching and transmitting the love of Mexican Folklore to the East Salinas community through his non-profit Tonatiuh -Danzantes del Quinto Sol. As founder and director, Ramón works tirelessly with his dance troupe to ensure that each performance is remarkable. He has provided free dance classes, cultural performances and lecture demonstrations for more than 25 years.


ANDREW JACKSON – Professional

Andrew is a contemporary painter who expresses his endearment to nighttime landscapes and architecture with his skilled and unique use of color, light, and shadow. His work conveys mystery in the neon of a liquor store, romance in the fluorescent glow of a donut shop, and comfort on a street lit overpass. Andrew holds a patent for his paint mixing guide “The Color Intensity Wheel,” mentors young adults through The Youth Arts Collective, and exhibited recently at The Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA, for the 39th Annual Art Auction, featuring works by renowned artists.



Photo Sol Treasures rev

Founded by three members of the community in 2008, Sonia Chapa, Barbara Pekema, and Bruce Graham, Sol Treasures grew from the depths of the community need to connect through art – and that is where its success lies. It is an authentic and genuine response to strengthening the community through art and culture, created and supported by its local citizenship and valued funding partners.



Photo Angelica Muro

Angelica is an Assistant Professor of Integrated Media and Photography at CSU, Monterey Bay and Chair of the Department of Visual and Public Art. She has been a CSUMB faculty member for over 10 years.  Her courses highlight social justice and community action and her inspired students have gone on to prestigious MFA programs, art gallery exhibitions and active engagement in social practices. Angelica  holds a MFA degree from Mills College and a BA in Photography from San Jose State University. Recent exhibitions include Glamorgeddon at SOMArts, San Francisco. She has also given multiple workshops and talks in our tri-county area.


REG HUSTON – Philanthropist

Photo Reg huston

Reg Huston founded the S.T.A.R. Foundation of Monterey County in 2009 to support youth-related theater in the county, later changing to support all youth-related performing arts. To date the Foundation has distributed more than one million dollars! Originally from Sacramento, Reg was trained as an opera singer with Bachelor and Master Degrees from The University of the Pacific, and he continued studies in Vienna. His operatic career took him around the US. Reg settled here to raise his family and has worked with Hidden Valley Music Seminars and Youth Music Monterey where he helped found their award-winning South County Strings program. Reg is also a treasured singer, actor and director.

Thank you to our auction donors and sponsors!

Click on the past Champions of the Arts to enlarge it.

Champions of the Arts 2006 to present


Click on previous Champions of the Arts Gala for photos and more information


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