You are here

Meany Center Virtual Gala 2021

This year, faced with having to produce our yearly fundraising gala Center Stage virtually for the second year in a row, we asked ourselves a couple of key questions:

  1. What, exactly, does Meany Center do best?
  2. What, exactly, can online offer that in-person can’t?

Our answer was: All the World’s a Stage — a lean 90-minute event that featured five stellar performances by artists scattered across the globe from Orcas Island, WA to New York City to Seville, Spain.

Imagine a flamenco palo performed in real time by a dancer in San Francisco, a singer in France and a percussionist in Spain. Noche Flamenca made it a reality, presenting Martinete, choreographed by the incomparable Soledad Barrio.

Imagine attending an intimate piano recital in Jon Kimura Parker’s living room on Orcas Island — our gala audience actually did, enjoying the sunset off Jackie’s deck while he played Oscar Peterson’s Blues Etude.

Watching from home, our gala guests enjoyed comfy seats, casual clothes—and no traffic or parking hassles—as they viewed performers from across all our series. In addition to Noche Flamenca and Jackie Parker, we presented Ethiopian-American musician Meklit Hadero from San Francisco (Crossroads artist) and Wu Han and David Finckel from their home in New York City (Chamber Music artists). And as a special treat, we all got to enjoy a vicarious return to Meany when local artist (and Mellon Fellow) Ahamefule Oluo performed live from our stage!

What’s more, guests and artists had a chance to mingle and chat in individual breakout rooms — an intimate experience the artists enjoyed as much as the audience. Meklit mentioned that it made her feel right at home. Michelle presented the 2021-22 Season Lineup, and the evening came to a joyful close with virtual greetings from many of next season’s artists, expressing their delight at the prospect of returning to our stage live. 

Our gala attendees, in return, showed their appreciation by donating a record amount to this yearly event: $423,388! 

All of us at Meany Center are profoundly humbled by the generosity of our supporters, grateful to the artists who participated in the event and inspired by the positive feedback we’ve received from audience members and artists alike in the days following.

Over the past three years, our gala has gone from Center Stage to Off Stage to All the World’s a Stage — who knows where we’ll go next!

But one thing we do know: your incredible support, has helped us set the stage for next year!

Watch the virtual greeting with many of next season’s artists expressing their delight at the prospect of returning to our stage live:


Thank you to the Tourist Office of Spain in Los Angeles for their generous support of this year’s Meany Center gala.