- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This weekend is busting at the seams with events, both swanky and recession-proof, to salute the arts and support emerging talent in Washington and beyond.

On Friday night, the Phillips Collection’s hallowed halls will welcome guests for the museum’s annual gala. While works by Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse keep a watchful eye, guests will wine, dine and dance.

“This year’s gala focuses on the local community from the locally sourced, sustainable menu to the honorees. All proceeds from the gala will support [the museum’s] award-winning education programs that serve more than 90,000 local students, teachers and families, with a specific focus on schools in Washington, D.C.,” gala spokeswoman Kelly Dieter says.

Tickets are $1,000 and can be purchased by calling 202/387-2151, ext. 311, or e-mailing [email protected]

With the help of a little jazz, the young and young at heart are standing up and being counted for arts and culture.

The Jazz Age in Paris will come to the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Saturday night as the Washington Performing Arts Society holds its annual gala, hosted by Pierre Vimont, the ambassador of France.

The evening’s theme will harken to the time between World War I and World War II when icons including Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Baker dazzled the City of Light with their uniquely American flair.

The 800 guests will enjoy a silent auction and cocktails, followed by dinner and - the highlight of the evening - a performance by Wynton Marsalis accompanied by a four-piece band.

Tickets for the event start at $350. For more information, call 202/293-9325.

Also on Saturday night, the jazzy theme continues at the annual Smithsonian Young Benefactors Ball, to be held in the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery. With the theme All that Jazz: Roaring Twenties, the event features as honorary guests social blogger Pamela Lynne Sorensen and NBC correspondent at large Luke Russert. MicroStrategy chief executive officer Michael J. Saylor has signed on as honorary patron.

Started in 1990, the Young Benefactors, also known as YBs, comprise about 1,000 young professionals with special interests in the arts, culture and history and advancing the Smithsonian Institution among their generational peers.

Kate Stilwill, communication coordinator for the YBs, says the jazz theme was selected for the event “because we wanted to remind everyone that it is possible to have fun during hard economic times,” referring to the Great Depression that began in 1929.

She explains that the current economic climate has stifled ticket sales, so the host committee decided to lower the ticket price to $125 as a “last-minute promotion to get people in the door.”

The evening, sponsored by Capitol File magazine, Heineken International and Ravenswood Winery Inc., will benefit the Culture4kids Fund, an organization that provides local children access to the Smithsonian’s educational resources, including its summer camp program.

Visit www.YoungBenefactors.org for tickets or call the Smithsonian ticketing office at 202/633-3030.

White House honor

Last week, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts announced that 20 of its YoungARTS finalists have been named Presidential Scholars in the Arts, a prestigious honor for a graduating senior.

Each year, NFAA begins with more than 6,000 applicants to its YoungARTS program. Through a rigorous adjudication process, 60 YoungARTS finalists are nominated for consideration by the Commission on Presidential Scholars, from which 20 are named Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Next month, the scholars will be presented with their medallions at a special ceremony with President Obama at the White House.

Ernest F. Baker II of Opa-Locka, Fla., a 2009 Presidential Scholar in the Arts for dance, says, “Being a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and a YoungARTS winner has proven to me that anything is possible; it has changed my life. My success with YoungARTS has made me feel that I should continue to pursue my career as a dancer and choreographer. I never thought I’d get this far - all the way to the White House!”

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