$1.7-Million Record Breaking Gala

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“I was blessed to have musical and performing mentors in my life when I was growing up…Because of this, I’m well aware of the value of arts education – the driving force behind the Foundation’s work, which I was honored to play a part in…” – Harry Connick Jr.

The Van Wezel Foundation held its 20th annual Inspiration Gala in January, raising more than $1.7 million. This level of funding makes the 20th annual Inspiration Gala the most successful fundraising event in the Foundation’s history. During the gala, it was also announced that the first $20 million in private funding for the future Sarasota Performing Arts Center was committed by the Foundation Board.

Before headlining the Van Wezel Foundation’s 20th Annual Inspiration Gala, Grammy® and Emmy® Award-winner Harry Connick Jr. shared his passion with Booker High School visual and performing arts students in an unscripted master class and open dialogue session at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. During the master class, Harry Connick Jr. led VPA students through songs on the piano, shared his path to success in the industry and then opened to a free-flowing dialogue with students.

Students in the master class also had the opportunity to attend the live performance by Harry Connick Jr. when he headlined the Foundation’s 20th annual Inspiration Gala later that evening. Both the tickets to the performance and master class were underwritten by the Foundation.

Read more about the gala’s success on our website and in Sarasota Magazine and The Observer.

To see what inspired passion in Gala attendees to break our fundraising records, we invite you to watch this video.

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