Tracy Butler On The Palm Beach Wine Auction And Its Funding Of The Kravis Center Education Programs
The 75,000 children who experience live theater every year at the Kravis Center have the Palm Beach Wine Auction to thank.
The five-star fundraiser that will mark its 12th year in January has generated $4 million for education programs at the performing arts hall.
“Without the wine auction, we would not be able to provide the diversity of programming that we do,” says Tracy Butler, director of education.
The education programs are so diverse that they require 28 pages of small print to list. The brochure, titled “Color Their World,” starts with the Students & Teachers Arts Resource Series, a school year’s worth of shows that relate to classroom curriculum, and ends with ArtSmart, an assortment of film festivals, luncheon lectures and writing workshops. Dozens of other offerings fill the rest of the brochure, such as the Student Arts Enrichment Programs, which enable youths to tap into their creativity through a platform. The results change lives.
“Many of these programs have helped students prepare for their auditions in college,” Butler says.
Kravis-on-the-Road, so popular that it often sells out, brings a theater company into the cafetorium of any school that wants to participate.
“We love for students to come here, but we also like to take these shows to them,” Butler says.
The summer 2019 programs lineup includes ArtsCamp, a three-week exploration of acting, dancing, singing and production, and The Broadway Artists Intensive, during which students learn directly from New York City professionals. Family Fare is fun, friendly entertainment for all ages with tickets that cost as little as $5.
“Real-live experiences, real-live theater, real-live people— there’s a place for that in our human existence,” Butler says.
A new program, Disney Musicals in Schools, targets Title I elementary institutions and arms them with the tools and training necessary to stage a show. Disney Theatrical Group artists work with faculty members from October to February, imparting advice and information that teachers, in turn, pass on to students.
“It’s been amazing to see the work that the students and teachers have developed,” Butler says.
The goal is to establish a space for students to share their success with the community and, while doing so, find out what it means to be part of a team.
“It’s really a nice way for the students to learn other transferable skills just by going through the production process,” Butler says.
Another new program is the Kravis Center Dream Awards for recognizing outstanding achievement in high-school musicals. The program involves qualified adjudicators going to various shows and selecting nominees. Plans call for expansion.
The wine auction makes everything possible. One of the most exclusive events of the season, it boasts a multicourse dinner paired with vintages from around the world and a live auction that commands five-figure bids.
“That fundraiser helps support not just the education programs but also the overhead, the staffing—all of it,” Butler says. “It’s critical.”