Dancin' at the museum. (All photos provided by James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art)

Yee-Ha! The James Museum’s Jamboree raised close to $300,000 for education and exhibitions

American Stage, Woodson Museum and St. Pete Free Clinic also enjoyed fundraising successes at recent events.

A stilt-walking cowgirl, line-dancing lessons and “OOOOOO-klahoma!” were among the crowd-pleasers at Jamboree at the James on April 9. The rollicking Saturday night party raised over $270,000 to fund educational programs and special exhibitions at The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art in St. Petersburg.

Standing tall at the James.
The K-OS Band.

The museum had invited guests to “grab your dance partner, dust off your cowboy boots and join us for an evening of “Country Western fun,” and most of the 230 attendees took the invitation to heart, kicking up their heels to the K-OS band and taking line-dancing instruction from Swing Time. The St. Pete Opera also provided musical entertainment, performing songs from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma.

Taking a whirl around the dance floor.
Dancing the night away.

Museum co-founder Tom James welcomed the crowd, as did chairs Anje and Tim Bogott. Executive Director Laura Hine spoke about the James’s mission of providing experiences that inspire human connection and transformation. A video was shown of a family that was able to visit the museum because of its Art for All Program, which provides free admission and educational opportunities for individuals and families who receive food assistance. It also provides funding for Title 1 schools and organizations that qualify to receive financial assistance to visit the museum.

Museum co-founders Tom and Mary James at the Jamboree.

A bonus for guests: They got the chance to view the James’s new special exhibition, which pairs two giants of photography: Ansel Adams: The Masterworks and Clyde Butcher: America the Beautiful. In fact, one lucky live-auction bidder won a chance to have dinner with Butcher himself.

The presenting sponsor for the event was Lindell Investments, Inc. and the Wild West Sponsor was Ashley, Ronald and Joyce Wanek.

AND IN OTHER GALA FUNDRAISING NEWS…

In addition to the Jamboree, the last few weekends in St. Pete have seen a string of memorable charity events.

The American Stage in the Park Opening Night Gala for “Footloose”

Raising the paddle for American Stage at the 2022 gala at Demens Landing. (Photo courtesy American Stage)

The cowgals and cowboys at the James weren’t the only ones kicking off their Sunday shoes this past weekend. On Friday, April 8, the cast of American Stage in the Park’s Footloose showed off their leaps and bounds at Demens Landing in the opening-night performance of the spirited 1998 musical, and dancers from the Academy of Ballet Arts and Project Alchemy provided pre-show entertainment for the gala’s nearly 600 attendees. In addition to an opportunity drawing, a live auction and a raise-the-paddle mission moment in support of the theater’s artistic and educational programming, guests got to be the first to hear some big news: the announcement of American Stage’s 2022-23 season, which includes Green Day’s American Idiot, The Colored Museum, Crimes of the Heart, Ragtime (next year’s musical in the park), and Disgraced. Local businesses and artists partnered with the theater for the event, including Island Flavors & Tings, Alpert Enterprises, Barbara’s Kitchen Jams & Jellies, Duncan McClellan Gallery and (Join the) Hootenanny.

SPFC Battle of the Minds 2022

The Battle of the Minds guests at the Coliseum.

Brainiacs, trivia experts and supporters of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic filled the Coliseum on Saturday, March 26 for the return of SPFC’s biggest fund-raising gala of the year, Battle of the Minds. The trivia questions were tough, but getting the capacity crowd to step up for SPFC was easy: A record $900,000 was raised through sponsorships, live and silent auctions and mission-moment donations — all in support of SPFC’s programs for St. Pete citizens in need of food, healthcare and housing. Generous contributions from Gary Hess and Trevor Burgess, Lou and Ann Rothschild, and event chairs Sarah and Augie Ribeiro set the pace for the Gift from the Heart portion of the evening, and Raymond James Financial was recognized for its individual and collective commitment to SPFC with the Sister Margaret Freeman Award.

Woodson Warriors Scholarships Fundraiser with Nikole Hannah-Jones

A gathering of Woodson Warriors Scholars with (top row, center) Jeanne Milkey, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Woodson African American Museum of Florida Executive Director Terri Lipsey Scott and Jane Bunker. (Photo: The Weekly Challenger)

Many of the folks who attended the SPFC gala, including St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, returned to the Coliseum the following afternoon, March 27, to support the Woodson African American Museum of Florida’s college scholarship program — and to hear a speech by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of The 1619 Project. The charismatic Hannah-Jones did not disappoint, lucidly explaining the thinking behind the project (see Ravel Joy Shonel’s excellent summary of the speech in The Weekly Challenger). The fund-raising was just as impressive: The event brought in $325,000, supporting 40 students with Woodson Warriors Scholarships. Founded by artist Jane Bunker in 2019 in collaboration with the museum, the scholarships were originally funded through sales of Bunker’s paintings. Since then, Bunker’s contributions have led to donations from other sources, including the Milkey Foundation, which pledged a generous annual contribution (through 10 years) of $50,000.