Bowling for Benevolence 

Young philanthropists go from black tie to black high-tops and redefine the  Richmond  “benefit.”

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We've seen it before: good old rock 'n' roll, duckpin bowling and charitable efforts on a chilly evening. It's become evident that in order to warm up this little town it takes a big heart or two.

Tiffany Cale and Danny Ingram, the crusading couple behind Community Chest Booking and Promotions, have found yet another way to bowl while bettering lives in the community. Last month they held Couture for a Cause, a fashion show and concert at Plaza Bowl at Southside Plaza to help fight global poverty. The event packed the alley nearly to capacity despite temperatures in the low teens.

This month's philanthropic venture finds the plucky duo back in bowling shoes and rocking out to rockabilly — only this time there's something strange about the duckpins. Ingram and Cale contacted 40 of Richmond's artists to paint and modify 40 duckpins, which will be put on the silent auction block Saturday for a Faison School for Autism benefit. The event, Art for Autism, is being carried on the backs of Cale and Ingram with a little help from friends, local businesses and the River City Rollergirls.

The event also holds significance for Cale, whose brother, Tristan, was diagnosed with autism as an infant. “When I moved to Richmond someone said they were doing amazing things,” Cale says of Faison. “Through volunteering, I found out about the school and really wanted to reach out more.”

The unconventional nature of Community Chest's causes is no surprise to those familiar with the couple's quirky creativity. Since the company's inception six months ago, Cale and Ingram have developed new ways to heat things up culturally while benefiting the little guy.

Though still in its infancy, Community Chest has a strong backing: Ingram, whose skills as an organizer helped promote the now-defunct Nanci Raygun. As general manager for the venue, Ingram created Richmond's Revenge, a concert that benefited independent, low-power radio station WRIR and Food Not Bombs. Ingram also planned events at Mojo's in Oregon Hill — benefits for Punks for Presents, a fundraising group for kids' charities, among other things, and Ring Dog Rescue, which helped find homes for dogs bred for the ring. Ties with Ingram's former employer remain strong, Cale says: “We do have overrun shows where we'll send them to other places like the Bagel Czar [formerly  Nanci Raygun] and Nara [Sushi].”

“They're booking big shows too, but they're also thinking about the great younger bands and the patrons with the smaller wallets,” says Lauren Vincelli, an Art for Autism co-organizer, a River City Rollergirl and one of those 40 duckpin artists.

When its organizers aren't bowling, Community Chest also handles booking for the Triple, a pool hall on West Broad Street. It has never had a cover charge exceeding $6 at either the Triple or Plaza Bowl, yet it still brings in such quality acts as the Raging Bangs, Red Hot Lava Man and the Hotdamns.

As for 2009, Community Chest has a busy calendar: a fibromyalgia benefit, perpetuating the Carytown New Year's ball drop and raising money for the Special Olympics at the University of Richmond by creating the world's largest banana split. “[The world record] was something like 4.5 miles long,” Cale says, “so we're going to do it in the stadium and hopefully break it.”

Community Chest's goal is to target everyone, Ingram says — “from the underground to the business professionals.” In a city familiar with black-tie charity benefits and big-dollar formal events — high-ticket dinners that do a lot of good — Community Chest has wider audiences in mind, and a whole different flavor.

But the No. 1 goal is to put on a good show. And with so many large venues peddling national acts, it's good to know that the little people have someone on the inside. “I've broken new grounds with great agencies,” Ingram says, “and we're about to bring through a lot of amazing music that has been skipping Richmond for too long.” S

The Community Chest and River City Rollergirls present Plaza Bowl's first Art for Autism event to benefit the Faison School for Autism on Saturday, Dec. 13, at Plaza Bowl, 521 E. Southside Plaza, 7-11 p.m. Free. 233-8799.


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