I had the pleasure of meeting a woman by the name of Lisa Sirkin Vielee recently. She had read my blog and contacted me in hope of being able to share one of my blog posts with her some of her own blog readers. I obliged, and the rest is history! We have met several times, ordered too many cups of Starbucks coffee to count, and have since been working on yet another venture that she is as passionate about as I am. She also filled me in on Spotlight 2010, a special event happening right here in Indianapolis to support the Indiana AIDS Fund.
Spotlight 2010 happened on Monday, May 10th, 2010, at Clowes Memorial Hall on the campus of Butler University. The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, WFYI, and the Efroymson Family Fund presented the evening, designed to help benefit the Indiana AIDS Fund. Fifteen different and equally unique acts appeared on the same stage. I attended the event with VIP access to be able to cover all of the evening’s details for you.
When I first arrived at Clowes Memorial Hall that evening, attendees were already queued up to get in the front door. Immediately on the ground floor of the venue, I noticed a bunch of very full tables. I would soon learn this was a silent auction, designed to raise money for the AIDS Fund. Covering these tables were items ranging from signed sporting goods to local artwork and jewelry. All but one of the artists were present to discuss their work, and to sign it if the work was purchased.
The evening itself was marketed as a night of drama; dance, music, song, and words too not only entertain, but to help the Indiana AIDS Fund prevent the further spread of this disease in and around the state of Indiana. The evening started off with some words from a grand supporter of the Indiana AIDS Fund, the one and only Sir Elton John. He talked about how much this foundation means to him, and how he has been touched by the efforts made from folks right here in the Hoosier state.
Creating a night like this took more than just a few ticket sales. As a matter of fact, they nearly sold out of tickets, with over 2,000 purchased for the night’s festivities. An evening like this also takes some high-end sponsors. Sponsor classes ranged from In Kind Donors to Presenting Sponsors. The requirements to be an In Kind Donor was not released, but Presenting Sponsors funded over $25,000. All of the evening’s performers were considered In Kind Donors, as they gave of their talents free of charge. Other In Kind Donors included Hoaglin’s Fine Catering, the Frame Shop, and Sam’s Club. The list of Presenting Sponsors includes the Efroymson Family Fund and the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis. Over forty sponsors helped make the evening as great as it could be.
Now, I made mention to the performers a moment ago. When I agreed to come to this event, I had no idea what to expect. I thought it might be some local choir or bands that came in to perform. But no, it was anything but ordinary. The list of performers included:
- Actors of Theatre of Indianapolis
- Asia LaBouche of “The Ladies of Legends” of Talbott Street
- Brenda Williams featuring the Pride of Indy Jazz Ensemble
- Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana Repertory Theatre
- Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
- Indianapolis Children’s Choir
- Indianapolis Civic Theatre
- Indianapolis Men’s Choir
- Indianapolis Opera
- Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
- Kenyetta Dance Company
- Meridian Song Project
- Pride of Indy Jazz Ensemble
- The (Re)Collective Company
- Tasha Jones
All of these great acts performed short sets on the same stage with nothing more than a brief intermission in the middle to allow attendees to stretch their legs. I was so impressed by this evening, I have decided to meet with each and every performer on this list, regardless of their support for next year’s event, and bring each of you readers at rickyleepotts.com a detailed description of what they all do. Not only do I want to meet these incredible talents, but I feel this cause and their performances were worth more than just a standing ovation.
After taking a look through some of the silent auction items, I headed upstairs to see what all the VIP excitement was about. The VIP passes were quite expensive, but all of the money went to help the AIDS organization’s wonderful cause. Upstairs, the mixed drinks flowed like water, and there was more food than I could ever imagine eating. On one side you had high tables and a buffet of appetizers. On the other, yet another bar, additional high-top tables, and even more food. My good friend Tyler Burgardt and I started on the far side, and made our way around each buffet. We popped by every bar for drinks and conversation with the bartenders. Later in the night, I also ran into Jared Duymovic, gallery coordinator at Gallery 7 at the Pike Performing Arts Center at Pike High School. He, too, was having, a great time.
When the concerts finally started, the crowd funneled their way into the theatre. I have been to many events held at Clowes Memorial Hall, and other theatres all over the world, but I have never seen an event like that. Not only were the transitions between acts almost immaculate, the performances were dead on. I had no idea that talent like this was in the city of Indianapolis, let alone that it was all going to flood to the same stage on one night. A sign-language interpreter stood to the right of the stage translating all the acts when necessary. I was so impressed by this, because it was just as enjoyable at times to watch him react and live out the show from his body movements, as it was to watch the performers. He never missed a beat and made sure that everyone in the theatre had a memorable evening.
When the evening was over, there was yet another gathering for some late night cocktails and desserts. I did not stay for that; the event ended past my bedtime. I do know from hearsay that it was quite enjoyable for everyone. From the moment that I walked in the door to the second I left, I was profoundly impressed. These events have been going on for years, and while this was the first time I’d attended or even heard about the event, I’ve committed to return year after year. I was so impressed with not only the music and the performances, but also with the level of organization displayed by the folks who put this together. They ended up making over $300,000 that night in donations, and I can proudly say that I was able to be a part of that experience.
Next year, make sure you step out at Spotlight 2011. Come dressed as you are or go all-out and rent a tuxedo. No one will judge either way. This is a night of fun, music, and relaxation in an effort to raise money to support such a great cause. When you put fifteen acts like this on one stage, pile over two thousand people into the same room to take part, and then raise that kind of money, it is hard to not have a great evening. I cannot wait to get to work writing on these acts and reporting back for next year’s Spotlight event. If you came out, I speak on behalf of many in saying thank you. We hope you all enjoyed the show.