BIG Night for the Gantt Center

B I G  T H A N K S.   B I G  H E I G H T S.   B I G  N I G H T.

For the past four years, I’ve been the event consultant on the Jazzy Holiday fundraising events of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture. Year after year, I have witnessed the event grow in a myriad of ways, so this year I picked the theme “BIG” for Jazzy. It seems the universe was listening and served up an event bigger than I ever imagined. Every element seemed to come “super-sized”.

The 2015 Jazzy Holiday Gala took place at the Charlotte Convention Center on Saturday, December 5. The event featured not only big art, a “big cheese” table, a big bar, big opportunities to give and a big band called Big Blast and the Party Masters but also preview performances by the world-renowned Dance Theater of Harlem and Spirit of the Center awards to Duke Energy, arts patrons Dr. Yele Aluko and Dr. Shirley Aluko-Houston, and Lonnie Bunch of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. People and entities of huge prominence in their respective spheres.

And arguably best of all, the event helped the Gantt Center raise over $500,000—the largest amount ever raised in the 35-year history of the “Jazzy” fundraising luncheons and galas. We set our intention with the BIG concept, and it was delivered, big time!

Here’s a link to a Storify.com recap of the event and below are some event photographs, along with a written account of the organizing concept that framed Jazzy 2015.


Organizing Concept for Jazzy 2015

Last year the Gantt Center celebrated its 40th anniversary. Now, in the 41st year, the Center sits in full recognition of its evolution from a seed of an idea into a big institution. After tremendous growth since 1974, the mission and daily work of the Center are reflected in a big building, big city, big contributions, big membership roll, big opportunities, big expectations and more.

While big is perceived the ultimate attainment, big things are realized only through the sum of innumerable little things and small acts. Decades are built on brief moments. An art collection begins with one piece. One spellbinding performance bursts from practiced small moves. A masterful painting emerges from a thousand brushstrokes. The largesse of a major donor begins with the experiences of a once impressionable child. Little things make big things happen.

The 2015 Jazzy Holiday Gala is designed as an expression of gratitude and recognition of the bigness and boldness of the Gantt Center and of Black culture. Without a multitude of everyday achievements, small contributions, untold sacrifices and mundane milestones, we could have never reached the grand heights of today. And without ongoing community commitment, both large and small, we will never fulfill our biggest dreams, our most audacious hopes or our immense potential to be great.

Click a photo to access the sideshow format.

Photographs courtesy of the Gantt Center as well as from my iPhone and social media

— VF

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