The RiverCenter for the Performing Arts begins Ambassadors Network

When Jonathan Boulineau was in high school, he volunteered as an usher at the Three Arts Theater.

He's now 29, a graduate of Berry College, married and a father of two daughters.

Boulineau works as a financial adviser, and his family keeps him busy at home, but he felt like something was missing when he wasn't doing volunteer work.

So he called Enoch Morris, the executive director of the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts and asked what he could do.

Boulineau met with Morris and Bill Bullock, the RiverCenter's development director, and came up with a plan.

Boulineau would head a group called the RiverCenter Ambassadors' Network.

This is a group of people, like himself, who would like to have fun but also do something for the arts.

"Right now, we have around 10 people," Boulineau said. "We're still getting off the group."

Among the Ambassadors are Amy Walters, an attorney; banker Douglas Bryant and Chris Brazzell, a branch manager of an engineering firm.

Unlike the Columbus Contemporaries, the long-standing group affiliated with the Columbus Museum, the Ambassadors is not targeting just young professionals.

"We're not limiting it to young professionals," Boulineau said. "It's for all ages. Sure, we have young people, but we have people who are late in their careers. We even have one retired person.

"We're about actually contributing real work. We're doing things that will really make a difference. We're raising the profile of the RiverCenter."

Boulineau said the arts in Columbus has always seemed exclusive. He wants everyone in town to know that they are welcome at the RiverCenter.

He realizes that it's difficult for people who work full-time and have families to volunteer for organizations.

But he's hoping that people will find that they'll have fun as well as help raise money for the RiverCenter.

The first event is "The Phantom of the RiverCenter" at 7 p.m. Aug. 7, beginning in the RiverCenter's Grand Lobby.

There will be nine wine tastings as well as a tour of the facility.

As you walk in, you'll be given a wine glass. In the lobby, you'll be poured two ounces each of three light Pinot Grigios.

In a group, you'll then go to the lighting/audio booth and get a demonstration of various lighting cues. You'll get to see a rigging display.

And technical director John Camp says you might even see "a possible chandelier accident on stage."

On stage, you'll get to see how all the rigging is done. Then it's off to the backstage area to taste three Pinot Noirs from Oregon, California and Washington, and have some light hors d'oeuvres.

From there, you get to see the area most people have never seen: the area under the stage. That's where you taste three California merlots.

Morris says most of these wines are not available in local grocery stores and liquor stores.

The tour will end at the Studio Theatre, where you can buy a full glass of the wine you liked the most.

The tour and wine tasting costs $25.

But for $50, you get the wine tasting, RiverCenter tour and membership to the Ambassadors Network.

For more information, call Bullock at 706-256-3606 or development coordinator Diana Mann at 706-256-3618.