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Brett Ratner, Christy Turlington Burns, Danny Simmons (Rush Philanthropic Co-Founder) and Russell Simmons.  Photo Courtesy of Jerrit

Brett Ratner, Christy Turlington Burns, Danny Simmons (Rush Philanthropic Co-Founder) and Russell Simmons.  Photo Courtesy of Jerritt

 

RUSSELL SIMMONS, DANNY SIMMONS AND RUSH PHILANTHROPIC ARTS FOUNDATION DEFY ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, RAISING A RECORD $1.5 MILLON AT THE NINTH ANNUAL ART FOR LIFE EAST HAMPTON BENEFIT GALA SATURDAY NIGHT
 

NY GOVERNOR DAVID PATERSON, ARETHA FRANKLIN, SEAN “DIDDY” COMBS, CHRISTY TURLINGTON BURNS, ED BURNS, SOLEDAD O’BRIEN, GAYLE KING, BRETT RATNER, TAMIA & GRANT HILL, LORRAINE BRACCO, PADMA LAKSHMI, “THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NYC” AND MORE TURN OUT IN SUPPORT OF PROVIDNG ARTS EDUCATION AND FUNDING TO UNDERSERVED NEW YORK CITY YOUTH

 

ART FOR LIFE SPONSORS INCLUDED SILVER SPONSORS MAYBACH  MERCEDES-BENZ AND SMART WATER; HSBC BANK USA AS VALET SPONSOR, AND PHILLIPS DE PURY & COMPANY AS AUCTION SPONSOR

 

 Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s Ninth Annual ART FOR LIFE East Hampton benefit gala sold out and raised a record 1.5 Million Saturday night in support of providing arts education to underserved New York City youth, defying the odds in this economic downtown reported to be affecting most fundraisers. 

“Even in this economic climate, it is clear our supporters understand the importance art plays in a young person's life,” Russell Simmons emphasized. “I think Governor Paterson said it best when he made the point that anyone with a young child can see the critical role expressing themselves through art and creativity plays in their development. The imagination is everything and the cultivation of creativity is the most important thing you can do for a child. We were thrilled so many old and new friends came out and supported this important cause and helped us raise more money than ever for the over 50 art programs Rush Philanthropic supports.”

Danny Simmons declared, “Fourteen years ago we did our first fundraiser event in Manhattan and raised $250,000. Today, we walked in to this event over 1 million dollars strong, and will see even more results after the online charity auction closes. We've come along way!”

Celebrities, socialites, arts patrons and friends from the entertainment and financial community, including New York Governor David Paterson, Aretha Franklin, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Gayle King, Padma Lakshmi, Christy Turlington Burns and Ed Burns, Jill & Bobby Zarin, Ramona & Mark Singer and The Countess LuAnn de Lesseps all from “The Real Housewives of NYC”, Lorraine Bracco, Al Roker & Deborah Roberts, Sante D’Orazio, Grant and Tamia Hill, Lyor Cohen, Alan Patricof, Kevin Liles, Kelly Bensimon, Tracey Edmonds, Erika & Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Kehinde Wiley, Tracy Mourning, R. Couri Hay, Curtis Martin, and many more all turned out in support of this year’s fundraising effort. 

Governor Paterson eloquently and with humor spoke to the capacity crowd about the necessity of arts education, stating, “Throughout history, governments around the world have supported the arts because they knew its importance. Here, in America, whenever government has an economic problem, the first thing they do is cut the arts and culture programs. The second thing they do is cut the youth services programs. I don’t know if you got the memo, but there’s a new sheriff in town!” [to huge applause] Lightening the moment, he continued, “With the weather supposedly getting bad later tonight, I don’t know if I’ll be able to fly out of here. The bad news is I missed the memo about the shades of violet color theme tonight [pointing to his beige suit]. But, the good news is, if I have to stay over, Russell has agreed to lend me his purple pajamas!”

Iconic model Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Turly, Inc. and the Christy Turlington Foundation; Patrice Motsepe of African Rainbow Minerals, one South Africa’s leading mining entrepreneurs and one of the richest men in the world and wife Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, a medical doctor, businesswoman and humanitarian; Frederick Iseman, Caxton-Iseman; Arnold L. Lehman and Norman M. Feinberg of the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Brett Ratner, RAT Entertainment, were all honored at this year’s gala. Honorary Chairs were Grammy® nominated R&B artist, Tamia and her husband, NBA star-athlete Grant Hill. Event Chairs included Ted Alemayhu, Executive Chairman and CEO, US Doctors for Africa; Frances Hayward; Drs. Yasin Khan and Elizabeth Khan MD; Brenda D. Neal, Senior Vice President, Wealth Management, Smith Barney; Vivi Nevo, President, NV Investments, R. Donahue and Katrina Peebles, The Peebles Corporation and David Tisch, Managing Member, LSV Financial. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien hosted the fundraising event gala.

The record breaking fundraiser for the organization is still not completely tallied, as the online ART FOR LIFE Charity Buzz auction continues until 2pm EST on July 24th. Already, the bid for artist Shepard Fairey’s Obama HOPE collage painting is up to $108,000 and continues to climb. Live auction bids at the gala included a tennis lesson with Serena Williams and her Wimbledon racket and a happy birthday phone call from Grammy winning artist John Legend, fetching $22,000 and $5,000 dollars, respectively. Other online auction items still available include celebrity experiences from Donna Karan, George Clooney, Tyra Banks, Ellen Degeneres, Petra Nemcova, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys and more.

Top designers Angel Sanchez, Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior, Prada, Gucci, Lorraine Schwartz, Jeri Cohen Fine Jewelry, Giuseppe Zanotti, Ana Reign and Rachel Roy also came on board donating special items to this year’s ART FOR LIFE “Dream Closet”.

Russell Simmons' East Hampton estate was transformed into a true "Midsummer Nights Dream" thanks to the creative vision of Bruce Sutka and Sukta International. Guests arrived clad in purple and violet palettes in keeping with this year’s color theme, “Shades of Violet”, walking into a magical world filled with gnomes, fairies, trees, oracles, and creatures of nature. These enchanting characters were donated by TEN31 Productions.

“The theme ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ brought inspiration and made me think how a creative interpretation of a dream could fuse imagination, fantasy and nature,” described Sutka. “ In my mind’s eye, I envisioned a world where everything seemed of gigantic scale, a place where statues come to life and where adults turned into children once more for just one evening.”  

The dance troupe STREB, one of the evening’s beneficiaries, treated the crowd to a fantastic performance of dance and acrobatics as the cocktail hour ended.

Following a fabulous dinner created by Great Performances, DJ M.O.S. kept the energy high spinning tunes throughout the night, closing out the evening with Ed Lover on the mic revving up the guests into creating their own “Soul Train line” until it was time to go home.

ART FOR LIFE East Hampton is Rush Philanthropic’s primary annual fundraising effort to help support thousands of underserved New York children. Proceeds from the event benefit over 50 New York City non-profit organizations, which offer education programming in all disciplines of the arts, as well as the Foundation’s own visual arts education programs.

Also special to the ART FOR LIFE gala is each year’s featured artist. This year’s artist was abstract painter Ed Clark who donated an original piece, of which Platinum Easel Table patrons received a signed limited edition print. Clark’s work has drawn accolades internationally for five decades. He is best known for using shaped canvas, utilizing this in a piece exhibited at the Brata gallery, New York City, in 1957, generally considered to be the first of its kind. Clark’s work can also be found in museums around the world including The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, The Detroit Art Institute, Detroit, MI., Centro de Arte Moderno, Guadalajara, Mexico, The California Afro-American Museum, Los Angeles, CA., Museum Solidarity, Titagrad, Yugoslavia, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.

Each year, three youth groups are also selected as the event’s Featured Beneficiaries. This year’s beneficiaries included Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, who offer visual, performing and literary arts, arts education and artists’ programs, Marquis Studios, who inspire a passion for learning by bringing the arts into schools, and STREB, a youth focused dance studio.

 

ABOUT RUSH PHILANTHROPIC ARTS FOUNDATION

Founded in 1995 by brothers Russell, Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts, as well as providing exhibition opportunities to under-represented artists and artists of color.  A 501(C)3 organization, Rush Philanthropic fulfills its mission through three core programs: grants, exhibitions and mentoring.  The Rush Community Grants Program annually provides direct funding to over 50 nonprofit organizations that offer education programming in all disciplines of the arts to New York City and South Florida youth. Rush also runs two arts exhibition and education facilities: Rush Arts Gallery and Resource Center in Manhattan’s Chelsea arts district and the Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood.  The organization is currently in a fundraising campaign for Rush East New York, an 11,000 square-foot arts education and resource center opening this fall in East New York, Brooklyn. The building was a gift from United Homes.  The Rush Gallery in the School and Rush Kids Visual Arts Mentorship Programs (a.k.a. Rush Kids/Teens) use arts education to create a spark that lights the imagination and creativity of the urban youth we serve. Rush Blueprint, formerly known as Rush Impact Mentorship Initiative, will launch this fall and will allow youth the opportunity to learn about and explore careers within the arts.

 


  

 

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