By Randi Somers
The Pratt Museum is preparing for its 26th annual fundraiser “Puttin on the Ritz” which will be held Saturday, Nov. 3. It is being staged at Wasabi’s restaurant, organizer Michele Miller said.
The venue has room for about 150 people upstairs alone. The theme is “Ritz at the Winter Palace” (think Dr. Zhivago, Russian theme) and the gala opens at 6:30 p.m. with an appetizer buffet. Corporate tables for 10 may be purchased for $2,500, $1,800 or $1,200. Corporate tables receive special treatment, such as being close to the stage and served complementary wine and champagne. Patrons are invited to organize a party of 10 to be seated together or they can be seated with other tables of 10. The bar will offer themed cocktails for purchase.
The format will be similar to past Ritz events, except that a full-course meal will be served between silent and live art auctions while entertainers perform. The appetizer buffet will feature a choice of four appetizers. Dinner will have a choice of three entrees and desserts include a choice of four. All dinner choices will be Russian-themed. An outcry auction for the artwork, with auctioneer Kathleen Gustafson, will be held after dinner and then dessert and coffee will be served. Immediately after the fundraising segment, a band will play so that patrons who wish can stay and dance.
Previous themes have included Starry Starry Night, Black and White Ritz, License to Ritz, Chez Ritz, Cirque du Ritz, Ritz: the Fabulous 50s, Roaring Ritz, Ancient Ritz. a Night on the Nile and this year’s Ritz at the Winter Palace. Most of these events were held at the Pratt but once in the 1990s it was held at Land’s End.
The Ritz has always started at 6:30 p.m. and patrons would receive a drink ticket with their program as they check in. It has always featured lavish hors d’ oeuvres. Lacking tables at the Pratt, the food was served throughout the museum by volunteers who walked around with platters to select from. Many Ritz attendees dress to fit the theme. Beer, wine and soft drinks were available to purchase. The evening starts with a silent auction, buyers write their offer on sheets by the item they’re interested in. Once the silent auction is closed, patrons were invited to be seated for the entertainment and then the outcry auction is held. The outcry featured art and experience packages with as many as 20 to 35 items. After the auction, the dessert buffet table was set with coffee and desserts and patrons could mingle. A DJ played theme-related music for dancing.
In the past many volunteers have been essential with as many as 25 passing hors d’oeuvres, serving wine and beer, washing dishes, auctioneering, emceeing, closing the silent auction tables and walking through the audience displaying art that was to be auctioned, packaging the art for people to take home, decorating, setting up and cleaning up. “This year we will need fewer volunteers,” Miller said, “because Wasabi’s will have wait staff, bartenders and bussers.”
This event has long been one of the major fundraisers for the Pratt’s educational exhibits and events. It raises between $20,000 and $35,000 for operations every year. The art that is sold is donated by the artists.
What: Ritz at Winter Palace
When: Nov. 3
More info: 235-8635
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