GAAC Gala is set for April 16

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The Annual Benefit Gala and Silent Auction for the Greenville Area Arts Council is less than two weeks away, and GAAC Board members want to remind everyone this is a night you won't want to miss. The festive annual event is slated to kick off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the White Oak Clubhouse. Coat and tie are required for the gentlemen, and the ladies are encouraged to "dress to the nines" for the glittering occasion.

While all current GAAC Angels, Patrons and Sponsors get in free to the event, &uot;tickets to the event are still available for purchase by anyone who wants to attend, and they will be available right up through that evening&uot;, says Roberta Gamble, membership chair for the arts council. &uot;We always love to see new faces and this is no exception. It's a great way to meet new people and have an enjoyable evening for a very worthy cause," she adds.

For non-members, the cost is $25 per person, This includes all beverages along a delicious assortment of hors d’oeuvres at no additional charge. The arts council's talented crew of local chefs will be in charge of providing the finger foods for the evening.

&uot;Mary Ann Hamilton is in charge of the food and she always does a wonderful job, so we know it will be fabulous,&uot; says Gamble.

There are some new twists to this year's event. This year, the Gala Benefit Gala and Silent Auction will take place at White Oak instead of at Cambrian Ridge as in past years. And, instead of the Mardi Gras theme of previous years, this year’s gala will feature a fun and action-packed Monte Carlo Night, with a large tent set up out front to accommodate the Riviera-style play taking place that evening.

&uot;We will have several different games for our guests to play. They can purchase chips to play and later the chips will be exchanged for wonderful prizes we will have available for the winners to choose from,&uot; says Gamble.

As always, hundreds of items, including original artwork, bountiful gift baskets for Auburn and Alabama fans and other specialty baskets, hardware items, unique handbags, gift certificates for car services, electronics, furs, fine jewelry, use of vacation cabins and much, much more will be on display ready to be bid on during the evening’s Silent Auction.

&uot;These items start off at just half of their retail value. There are some wonderful bargains to be had and we certainly offer some fabulous items,&uot; says Gamble.

While the Gala and Silent Auction offers the public a chance to dress up and come out to enjoy an evening of fun, games, great food, drink and fabulous bargains, it does have a more serious purpose: to keep those great shows coming to the Ritz each season.

&uot;What many people don’t realize is how expensive it is to put on these productions. They average $13,000 to $14,000 per musical, and that is actually a bargain compared to what they cost larger venues. We catch these touring productions en route to other destinations, which saves us several thousand dollars. This is also the reason why our shows usually take place on a Monday or Tuesday night – we are getting them on the way to the larger cities,&uot; explains Gamble.

Season tickets cost only $30, and 20 percent of that goes into the city’s Ritz Restoration Fund, leaving $24 to go into the GAAC fund.

&uot;It works out that each of the four shows last year cost the season ticket holder just six dollars per show. We want to keep the ticket price affordable, so we have to raise funds however we can to make up the difference. That way, we can keep bringing those quality productions to town,&uot; Gamble stresses.

There is much behind-the-scenes work that goes on –

not only for the cast and crew in preparing for each production, but also for the GAAC volunteers who keep it all running smoothly.

GAAC members provide a hot meal in the late afternoon for the entire cast and crew as well as a lavish buffet following the show.

&uot;We even have someone wash, iron and steam the costumes for the cast – they are on such a tight schedule there is no time for them to do it themselves,&uot; Gamble says.

The arts council also provides two lighting technicians and several stage hands to assist with each production.

&uot;Basically, we take care of everything for them – we are contractually obligated to do so. And that entails a lot of work by our folks that many people don’t know about. Fortunately, we have a wonderful group of willing volunteers that make it all happen. It's amazing what you can do when you have willing, positive people to work with, &uot; she adds.

To help the GAAC &uot;keep it all happening&uot;, contact Roberta Gamble at 382-3414 for GAAC Benefit Gala and Silent Auction ticket information or to confirm attendance.