March 30, 2005 News & Features » Cover Story


Let the Schmoozing Begin 

Thursday, April 7

Luncheon with Travel Writers

In addition to the rich and famous, the media is also being courted, especially travel writers, as well as some corporations with no Virginia ties that the governor wants to reach out to. The first event planned for the weekend is a sit-down lunch with the governor, VTC President and CEO Alisa Bailey, and travel writers from "slick Condé Nast-type publications," says Qualls. "That's kind of the could turn into nothing, but could be the most profitable part of this whole thing, if you can actually encourage arts-based tourism to Virginia."

The event is being coordinated by New York public relations firm Lou Hammond and Associates and will feature Virginia food and wines selected by Michael Green, wine consultant for Gourmet magazine and a University of Virginia grad. According to Bailey, "We will be sharing information about travel to Virginia, Virginia performing arts venues, Virginia wineries, Jamestown 2007 commemoration, as well as the new movie, "The New World," slated to premier in the US and UK in November." The Terrence Malick film was filmed in Virginia, stars Christopher Plummer and Colin Farrell, and tells the story of Jamestown.

Ballet Celebration Gala

At the request of Warner, Philip Morris USA, well-known as a major corporate supporter of dance, is underwriting a gala at the newly-revived Museum of Modern Art. Philip Morris has hired a New York party planner to take care of the details.

About 325 guests are expected, including honorary chairs Gov. Warner and his wife, Lisa Collis, members of the National Endowment for the Arts and other foundations that have funded some of the different pieces the dancers are performing. Also invited are choreographers, musicians and designers whose work is onstage; the ballet's New York alumni (including New York Ballet principal dancer Philip Neal); and members of the John Butler Foundation board (of which Winslett is the chair). Then there are the ballet's supporters, including 34 of the ballet's 60 board members.

The gala, which costs $300 or $1,000 a ticket (depending on the level of sponsorship), takes place in the MoMA lobby and atrium with the only embellishment being candlelight. "With a backdrop like Monet's 'Water Lilies,' who needs anything else?" says ballet Development Director Gretchen Kok. The dress is "festive cocktail" and guests will have the freedom to wander the galleries and munch from hors d'oeuvres stations scattered around.

Friday, April 8

Virginia Opera Luncheon

The Virginia Opera hosts a luncheon at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, part of The Juilliard School with views of the Hudson River and the Lincoln Center complex. About 150 guests are invited and soprano Fabiana Bravo, who has performed with the Virginia Opera, will perform.

Cocktail Reception with Young Artists and Alumni

The evening cocktail party at the Museum of Modern Art is hosted by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and VCU. It's geared toward the youngest audience of the weekend. The 350 attendees will include young Virginia school graduates, artists, arts supporters and potential supporters, as well as more established Virginia artists such as Sally Mann. The purpose is to display and celebrate the strength of the Virginia's visual arts and emphasize its tie to many major artists and institutions in New York. The party will feature a slide show of work by Virginia-linked artists. Music will be provided by the VCU Jazz Ensemble. Also, an exhibit of work by world-renowned artist and Virginian Cy Twombly will be on display at The Whitney. Guests will receive a list of New York galleries exhibiting work by Virginia artists.

VMFA Dinner

Also this evening, the Virginia Museum will host a formal sit-down dinner for 200 guests at The Frick Collection, a historic residence turned museum and library. Those attending will include "ambassadors" of the museum's choosing and members of the museum's Faberge Society, who were already planning to be in New York that weekend.

Saturday, April 9

Grand Reception

The Virginia Tourism Corporation is closely aligned with the Virginia Arts Festival because it is perhaps the most high-profile arts event in the state, attracting national and internationally renowned music, dance and theater to Hampton Roads for a month each spring.

The two organizations will host the weekend's final event at Jazz at Lincoln Center, another hot, newly opened venue. The three-hour cocktail party for 450 includes performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company, classical pianist André-Michel Schub, the Imani Winds woodwind quintet and a dessert finale.

The reception is carefully planned to reflect Virginia culture, including the state's wines, foods and visuals. Bailey, of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, says it's designed to focus on the natural scenic beauty of the state. Elements include a Blue Ridge Blues Café for the pre-event reception with décor to reflect Virginia's mountains and a Virginia Is For Lovers Café for dessert with a beach and bay theme. Also on hand will be Debbie Pratt, of Jamaica, Va., world-champion oyster shucker, and Brodie Dollinger, sommelier from The Jefferson, who will be sharing Virginia wines. In addition to the Virginians invited from the arts sectors, media who cover travel, the arts, food and wine have been invited.

"Virginia's rich arts and cultural attributes give Virginia a competitive advantage over other travel destinations," Bailey says. "When we entice travelers to Virginia to enjoy our arts and culture, the lodging, restaurant and retail sectors all benefit. Our goal is to remind travelers that 'Virginia Is For Lovers of Arts and Culture.'"


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