Keep Cool

A week ago, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture hosted its 37th annual Jazzy Holiday Gala. Jazzy, the museum’s major fundraiser, is a holiday season tradition in Charlotte.

For the 7th time, I was the event consultant.

The gala is a delicious creative outlet and a meaningful endeavor for me because it helps raise dollars and the public profile of the Gantt Center. Originating as a luncheon,  Jazzy, after 39 years, transformed into an evening event in celebration of the Center’s 40th anniversary and remains a gala. Being a part of this event’s growth and evolution has been fulfilling. Plus, I am witness to and contribute to facets of Black philanthropy at its finest.

Each year, I come up with a new vision and organizing concept. Inspiration flows rather effortlessly on things that shape the event such as its colors and visual elements, key messages, music and featured forms of the arts. The Gantt Center staff and board members focus primarily on sponsorships, ticket sales and other fundraising strategies like art auctions and raffles. Annually, three recipients of the Spirit of the Center Award are selected and their award presentations are integrated into the event plan.

A record 800+ guests attended Jazzy 2017, which carried the theme Keep Cool. To make a gala of this scale a successful fundraiser and also a fun and entertaining event, collaboration with a host of vendors, performers and volunteers is essential. This encompasses about 250 people, performing services such as graphic design, printing, floral design, valet parking, sound and light production, set design, food and beverage preparation, security, coat check, entertainment, and more.

I’ve written about Jazzy over the years, like here and here and here and here. And below are links to recaps from over the years. All told during these years, Jazzy has honored over 21 people, hosted nearly 4,000 guests, and raised well over one million dollars. Now, how cool is that!

Imagine Anew | 2013

Storify-2013

Remember  | 2014

Storify-2014

BIG Night | 2015

Storify-2015

Art & Soul | 2016

Storify-2016

Keep Cool | 2017

Storify-2017

 

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Come Chill at Jazzy

keep cool screenshot

For 43 years, the Gantt Center has kept cool. 

Preserving and presenting facets of Blackness has remained central to its mission.

From the mystic coolness of West African civilizations,

to the emergence of cool jazz in the Forties,

to that elusive cool exuded in attitude, looks, strides, speech and ways of being . . .

Remarkably, the best of African American art and culture has come to characterize coolness. As designer Christian LaCroix astutely observed:

…the history of cool in America is the history of African American culture.

This sums up my organizing concept that will shape this year’s JAZZY HOLIDAY GALA. Six months from now at Jazzy 2017, the Gantt Center will celebrate the ineffable style and aesthetic known as Black Cool. 

An elegant black-tie gala, Jazzy 2017 will take place on Saturday, December 2 in the expansive Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center. This is the 37th year of Jazzy, the Gantt Center’s signature fundraising event and Charlotte’s not-to-be-missed holiday tradition.

Jazzy 2017 is on track to become the Gantt Center’s largest gala ever, attracting as many as 1,000 guests. The gala generates crucial dollars to advance the Gantt Center’s mission, which keeps African American art, culture and history alive and thriving in Charlotte.

At 6:00 pm, Jazzy will kick off with a festive cocktail reception. Fun and fellowship continue with dinner and wine, award presentations, impact stories, opportunities to give, live entertainment and dancing. Individual seats are $250. A range of sponsorships and benefits is available to corporations, small businesses and individuals. Learn more at ganttcenter.org.

 2017 Spirit of the Center Award Recipients

Ferguson Chambers & Sumter | esteemed Charlotte-based law firm which has earned an international reputation for affirming civil rights

Charles Farrar | Charlotte’s world-class artisan who through woodturning produces finely crafted bowls and vases, prized by museums and art collectors

Philip Freelon | renowned architect of the Gantt Center and numerous cultural institutions, most recently the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture 

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture presents, preserves and celebrates excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and people of African descent. Come chill at Jazzy and invest in our collective future with your support of the Gantt Center. 

I’m excited, once again, to play a part in envisioning and organizing one of Charlotte’s most important, hot-ticket events. Take a look Jazzy last year and the year before last and the one before that and before that!

— VF