Jason Strykowski for Pasatiempo, Santa Fe New Mexican
In the announcement invitation for their July 18 virtual gala, An Evening of Stars: A Livestream Gala Event, Performance Santa Fe asks that guests wear formal attire. It’s a big-time event with 16 performers making virtual appearances, so the stringent requirements aren’t surprising. “Just kidding! Pajamas are most definitely welcomed!” the announcement continues. The lineup will be available to watch from home for an optional donation.
Typically, the gala is among the biggest fundraisers of the year for PSF. This year, the organization has been forced to adjust and stray from the traditional gala format. Instead of an in-person event, PSF is hosting a live, hour-long, curated, virtual presentation with original performances. Their selections cater to the Santa Fe audience and are wholly unique. To augment the experience, PSF will include a chat window so viewers can exchange thoughts during the presentation. Artists on the slate include Isabel Leonard, Pablo Sáinz Villegas, Angela Meade, Susan Graham, Malcolm Martineau, Delfeayo Marsalis, Il Divo, Joshua Hopkins, Danielle Diniz, and Daniel Ulbricht.
Ulbricht, artistic director and founder of Stars of American Ballet, savors his annual trip to Santa Fe. “It’s very special to us,” he says. This year would have marked his tenth visit to the Lensic Performing Arts Center with members of the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. Instead, Ulbricht and Diniz prepared a dance in their home. “We had the opportunity to expand on this one-minute piece that Danielle had choreographed,” says Ulbricht. “… for most artists in major, major areas, they’re not performing until next year. So, this is fun to perform on a back porch, which is not your typical lights and curtains.”
Chad Hilligus, executive and artistic director of PSF, who will introduce some of the acts, is thrilled by the response to the event. “We’ve already more than doubled the number of people who have historically attended our in-person galas,” says Hilligus. Some respondents have even informed PSF of their plans to watch with family and friends, meaning the crowd could actually be much larger.
This new format has also allowed PSF to reach broader audiences. “More than half of the donations we’ve received in advance through the gala website are brand new donors,” says Hilligus. He hopes that this excitement will translate into in-person tourism to Santa Fe in the future.
An Evening of Stars: A Livestream Gala Event will air on Saturday, July 18, at 6 p.m. at http://performancesantafe.org/virtual-gala/. A video window will show the live stream. The page includes instructions for optional preregistration and donation.