Stages Repertory Theatre Hosts The Night Garden Gala

By Jennifer Roosth     Photography by Priscilla Dickson and Daniel Ortiz

THE SETTING: Attended by a record breaking 464 guests, the 2019 Stages Repertory Theatre hosted its most successful gala to date. The Revaire’s ballroom décor, designed by Bergner and Johnson, was inspired by the theme, The Night Garden, with a hint of the theatre’s upcoming show, Little Shop of Horrors. Garden vines, blooming branches, trailing greenery and carnivorous plants filled the space, along with touches of rich red and hot pink, adding a sensuous layer to the evening. Following dinner with cuisine by A Fare Extraordinaire, attendees crowded the dance floor and danced the night away to the sounds of Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra.

THE STYLE: It was a night charmed with a big surprise. Glenda and Russell Gordy’s longtime friends, Sue Smith and the late Lester Smith, had informed them that they would not be able to attend this year’s gala. However, unbeknownst to the Gordys, the Smiths had reserved a table and planned to make a special announcement at the event. Following dinner, a messenger presented the Gordys with a giant red gift box containing a check revealing a $2.5M gift, enabling Stages Repertory Theatre to fully fund their new campus, The Gordy, nearly a year ahead of opening. The Smiths deliberately chose to bestow their first significant performing arts donation in honor of their close friends, the Gordys.

THE PURPOSE: The gala chairs were Judy and Jim Nicklos and Brenda and Bradley Jones served as the underwriting chairs, The evening raised over $630,000 including auction proceeds. The Gordys made a leadership $5M gift to the capital campaign, Staging Our Future in 2017, making their gift one of the largest individual gifts in the history of Houston’s performing arts community. The campaign supports the construction of its new 66,850-square-foot three-theatre campus, The Gordy, which will open in January of 2020. Stages surprised both the Gordys and the Smiths by announcing that the new campus’s 223-seat arena stage will be named the “Lester and Sue Smith Stage”.



Dell Children’s Medical Center Gala Shatters Fundraising Records.

By Rob Giardinelli Photography | by Ben Porter

THE SETTING: A beautiful evening at Austin’s JW Marriott hotel was the setting recently for the annual Dell Children’s Medical Center gala. In total, over 1,000 of Austin’s most notable sociables, community leaders and philanthropists were on hand to support one of Capital City’s most venerable organizations for a night of hope, fun and fundraising.

THE STYLE: The fun began even before the impeccably dressed crowd in their finest black-tie attire ascended the escalator to the main ballroom. Here guests had the opportunity to pose for photos on a one-of-a-kind step and repeat, set as a living room, designed by Autumn Rich and Lisa Hickey. Dapper in gowns and tuxedos, the partygoers then made their way to their seats in an impeccably designed ballroom full of orchids courtesy of David Kurio. The program included heart-warming testimonials from families positively impacted by Dell Children’s Medical Center and a spirited live auction. The festivities were capped off in the foyer-turned-disco of the JW Marriott for the after party where guests danced the night away in style.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Pat and Katherine Jones, raised a
record-setting $1.7 million dollars for Dell Children’s Medical Center. Since 1996, the gala has raised over $18.5 million dollars to provide valuable resources and programs for children and their families.



Blanton Museum Of Art Gala Receives Major Gift From The Moody Foundation

By Rob Giardinelli   Photography by Tyler Schmitt and Julie Skarratt

THE SETTING: The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin was the recent setting of their 2019 biennial gala. Over 250 of the top patrons of the arts throughout Texas were on hand for an evening of fun that also announced a major donation that will further transform of one of Austin’s most venerable cultural institutions into an international arts destination.

THE STYLE: The festivities began in the foyer of the Blanton Museum for 
cocktails. While some mingled over cocktail chatter, others headed to see a sneak peek of the Blanton’s latest exhibit Words/Matter: Latin American Art and Language at the Blanton. After cocktails the partygoers headed to a tent erected on the Blanton Courtyard for the main program. As guests dined on a multi-course meal courtesy of Chef Elmer Prambs of the Four Seasons, they heard words from top supporters of the Blanton, which included Austin Mayor Steve Adler. The best was saved for last as the Moody Foundation announced a $20 million gift to transform and reimagine the Blanton grounds bringing the crowd to their feet and capping off a spectacular evening that those fortunate enough to attend will always remember.

THE PURPOSE: The gala, hosted by Gregory Fenves, Simone Wicha and Janet Allen raised almost $800,000 for the Blanton Museum of Art beyond the Moody Foundation gift. Proceeds from the 2019 gala will go toward providing essential funding to the museum’s programs.



The Center for Child Protection’s Annual Dancing with the Stars Features 12 Austin Celebrity Dancers

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Estrella Chacon, Jeff Loftin Photography, Christina Murphy and Haley Plotkin Photography

THE SCENE: Recently, the Center for Child Protection hosted its 12th annual Dancing with the Stars event presented by Lexus of Austin and Lakeway. This annual winter social mainstay, held at the JW Marriott, featured 850 notable and stylish Austinites for an evening of fun those on hand will not soon forget.

THE VIBE: This black-tie extravaganza began in the ballroom foyer of the JW Marriott for cocktails where Austin’s hip and chic mingled with other partygoers as well as the celebrity dancers. The festivities then moved to the ballroom where guests took to their seats and as they dined on a multi-course meal listened to personal video testimonials of how the Center for Child Protection has positively impacted the Austin community. Next was a spirited live auction where guests bid on a host of luxury items.

After the live auction, came the main event, the performances by the 12 celebrity dancers. Cheering on their favorites, the revelers were often brought to their feet by the show-stopping performances. Guests then voted for their favorite dancers before Kendall Beard McMinn was crowned the winner. Then, the action continued well into the night as guests danced the night away to the tunes of DJ Gatsby.

THE CAUSE: The event, chaired by Francie Little and Jenny Mason, raised $1.4 million for the Center for Child Protection. Over the past 25 years the Center for Child Protection has served as a first stop for children in Travis County who have witnessed violent crimes or have experienced physical or sexual abuse.



The 41st Annual Seton Development Board Gala Delights

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Ben Porter

THE SCENE: A beautiful evening at The Four Season in Austin was the recent setting for the 41st annual Seton Development Board Gala. This year’s gala, Stardust, featured several hundred of Austin’s most notable Sociables who were on hand to celebrate one of the city’s most heralded organizations.

THE VIBE: From the moment the black-tie partygoers entered the foyer of the Four Season’s ballroom, they knew they were in for a very special evening. The festivities began with a fun and lively cocktail hour, with crooners Ricki Derek and the Vegas Six performing the perfect singing the perfect Havana-themed inspired tunes for the occasion. The cocktail reception spilled out of the foyer and onto the outside terrace where guests brimmed with anticipation of the fun ahead.

The party continued in the main ballroom of the venue for the evening’s program which included honoring Austin philanthropists Charmaine and Gordon McGill and Wofford Denius. As guests dined on a delectable four-course menu courtesy of the hotel’s Chef Elmer Prambs, the festivities flowed at a brisk pace. The program included touching testimonials about Seton to a spirited Odds & Evens auction, offering a fresh and new take on the popular Heads or Tails live auction which kept everything light and fun throughout.

THE CAUSE: The event, chaired by Shannon Dowell and Evelyn Wiedeman, raised over $600,000 for the Seton Heart Institute at Seton Medical Center Austin. Proceeds will go toward the organization’s cardiovascular programs and equipment to ensure top-quality care in Central Texas.



SAFE Alliance’s A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream Gala Dazzles

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Bobby Scheidemann

THE SETTING: A recent Saturday evening at Austin’s Fairmont Hotel was the setting for the annual SAFE Alliance Storybook Gala. The event attracted approximately 700 of Austin’s most notable sociables and philanthropists for an incredible evening of fun and fundraising.

THE STYLE: The prologue of this storybook affair began with cocktails in the foyer of the Fairmont. Here, the black-tie crowd socialized and mingled anticipating the fun ahead. As the clock struck seven bells, the doors opened wide to the Fairmont Ballroom where the audience went to view the next act of the evening.

As partygoers dined on a sublime multi-course meal, they were treated to the evening’s program. The emotionally-charged program featured touching videos and testimonials of how SAFE has positively impacted many citizens. The next scene of this story was the live auction, which raised over $500,000. Patrons bid on an impressive array of items including a VIP experience to The Ellen Degeneres Show and a private island getaway in Belize for fourteen guests. The fun continued well into the evening as guests danced the night away, creating a happily ever after for all who were a part of this fairy tale evening.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Michelle Long Held and Cindy Klatt, raised nearly $1.2 million dollars for the SAFE Alliance. The mission of SAFE is to end sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse and domestic violence through prevention, intervention and advocacy for change.