A SOLD-OUT AFFAIR ON MARKET
The 42nd Annual Grand Gala, a sold-out affair on Market on Saturday night, brought more than 1,100 guests on a journey as they moved from a champagne-fueled pre-party at A.R. Morris (pictures here!), to a Michael McDonald performance at The Grand Opera House, and then on to the extravagant after-party at the Hotel du Pont. What made this year’s event special? We went to that dynamic duo of arts marketing on Market, Amy Watson Bish and Andy Truscott, to fill us in:
Andy: For the first time since 2005 The Grand Gala was SOLD OUT. We were turning people away on Tuesday of that week. It was the first sold out Gala in recent memory.
Amy: Since Bonnie Raitt played The Gala in 2005. We were also lucky to have so many of our elected officials in attendance. Senator Carper and Senator Coons were there…
Andy: … LBR was there. [Editor’s note: That’s very affectionate shorthand for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.] And of course, how could you miss Gov. and Mrs. Markell.
How is Michael McDonald?
Andy: He was great! He played a lot of the fan favorites, opening with “Yah Mo B There” ... that had all the people in my section dancing.
Amy: And he encored with “What the World Needs Now is Love.”
Andy: When he started playing “Taking It to the Streets” the crowd was up and dancing for the rest of the concert. It appeared to be a younger crowd this year. Lots of attendees made their way out for their first Grand Gala simply because of Michael McDonald.
Amy: Because Michael McDonald is part of that whole “yacht rock”resurgence.
Andy: We also awarded the inaugural Grand Medal for Excellence in the Performing Arts. This year’s awardee was Mrs. Tatiana Copeland.
Amy: Tatiana and Gerret Copeland’s generosity to Wilmington and northern Delaware, and particularly the arts and The Grand, is unparalleled.
Andy: Mrs. Copeland’s support extends beyond The Grand to many other artistic and humanitarian organizations in Wilmington including the Delaware Art Museum, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, the Delaware College of Art and Design, Delaware Theatre Company, Christiana Care/Helen Graham Cancer Center, Canine Partners for Life, the Jefferson Awards, Girl Scouts, Brandywine SPCA, and the Delaware Humane Association.
That award was an impressive piece.
Andy: I’m pretty sure it'll knock you out if it got thrown at you. It’s very impressive and was created by a local sculptor Brad Vanneman, who donated all of his work and the metal itself.
What did you guys most enjoy about the after party at the Hotel?
Andy: It was lively the entire time. No matter what room you went into, there was always someone having a great time.
Amy: We've gotten nothing but compliments about the layout, food choices, and professionalism of the Hotel du Pont’s staff. The addition of the Monte Carlo table games was also an exciting piece of this year’s Gala as another stream of fundraising revenue.
Andy: I think the energy from McDonald’s concert flowed through the rest of the night. And I think our board chair, Brian DiSabatino, did a great job of succinctly telling people what the Grand Gala supports. People left having a better understanding of the number of education and community engagement programs that The Grand offers in the community, especially our new sensory-friendly programming.
Amy: And there’s also the economic support downtown. We had 1,200 people downtown, dining at the restaurants, and then attending the show and staying at the hotel. A.R. Morris generously hosted the pre-party and also saw an increase in sales that evening.
And how was the food?
Amy: I’m a dessert girl, so the petit fours and churros were my favorite. My husband really enjoyed the lamb chops and the grilled octopus.
Andy: I run every year to the oyster bar. You’ll probably find me camped out at a table near them.
Amy: You just go from one room to the other. There’s so much.
Andy: That’s why The Grand Gala was voted The Best Reason to Get Dressed Up by Delaware Today for the Best of Delaware 2018.
Amy: It truly is an evening you’ll never forget that supports the arts and arts education in the State of Delaware.
Andy: We’ve already announced the next one! We’ll see you on Saturday, December 7, 2019!
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