Social Life Comes to Halt as Library, WNYC Cancel Galas

Daniel Loeb
Daniel Loeb, center, CEO and founder, Third Point LLC. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC didn’t do a yoga pose in a photo booth last night at the Bent on Learning benefit.

Citigroup Inc.’s Raymond McGuire and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Valentino D. Carlotti left their tuxedos in their closets Monday instead of wearing them to the Studio Museum in Harlem gala at Cipriani Wall Street.

And Lulu Wang, founder and chief executive of Tupelo Capital Management LLC, was in blue jeans at home, listening to Brian Lehrer on WNYC instead of being honored at New York Public Radio’s gala at 583 Park.

Arriving in one of the busiest weeks of New York’s social season, Hurricane Sandy forced dozens of nonprofits to cancel their fundraisers. Vendors and nonprofits will have to work out the financials of the situation and determine their next steps.

Thurgood Marshall College Fund brought in 500 of its scholarship recipients to attend a workforce development conference over the weekend, which was to culminate in a 25th anniversary gala Monday night.

Now 415 students are stranded in New York and the organization’s president, Johnny C. Taylor, is trying to raise more than $250,000 to pay for the additional costs of putting them up, feeding them and getting them back to school. More than 300 of the students will not be able to get a flight until Friday or Saturday.

Food Costs

New York Public Radio will pay the food costs for 470 people, the number who had been slated to attend the group’s gala on Monday, Margaret Hunt, vice president of development, said in a telephone interview. The organization won’t have to pay for staff because enough notice was given, Hunt added.

Another bright note: “So far nobody is wanting their money back,” Hunt said. That will mean the stations, without even holding the event, will bring in $1.45 million, $200,000 above the fundraising target.

It’s still bittersweet for Hunt, though. “We’ve been working on this for a year,” she said. “It’s really hard to exactly get all the elements back together.”

That statement certainly applies to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. For its annual symposium, it expected to present $40 million in grants to 197 researchers from around the world during a Tuesday luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria. The actress Kate Hudson was to have presented an award.

Minimal Loss

Hudson didn’t make it to New York, nor did most of the scholars. As for financial loss: “I’m not saying we’re not going to lose anything, but after 20 years of doing this and the relationships we’ve built, every effort will be made to help us have minimal loss,” Anna DeLuca, director of public relations at the foundation, said.

David Adler, founder and chief executive officer of BizBash, a trade publication for the event industry, said companies and nonprofits with events postponed due to Hurricane Sandy are not likely to recover the money they’ve put out to venues and caterers.

“Venue contracts have force majeure clauses, which means you’re not covered by acts of God, they’re not going to give you your money back,” Adler said.

Whitney Museum

Elsewhere, the Whitney Museum of American Art canceled its Tuesday night gala, set to take place at a pier on the Hudson River, the Fortune Society canceled a Monday night gala at Tribeca Rooftop, and the East Harlem School canceled a gala last night at 583 Park. “Zone One” author Colson Whitehead was to have been honored at a Brooklyn Public Library gala that wasn’t held last night.

These and other canceled events may be rescheduled. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts postponed a gala scheduled for tonight until November 7.

Sandy could wreak long-term havoc on events if venues are unable to reschedule them. Catalog for Giving has its Urban Heroes Awards scheduled for Nov. 5. It is now looking for an alternate to its original venue, Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers, which will be closed.

The sports and event complex on the Hudson River is without power and assessing damage, according to a recorded message that noted individual businesses would reopen “as soon as power is restored and all necessary repairs have been completed.”

Public Library

The main branch of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, a popular venue for galas, is currently without power but did not sustain damage, spokeswoman Angela Montefinise wrote in an email today. All rental events there this week have been canceled, she said.

At least one fundraiser will go on as planned for Halloween tonight: Hulaween, organized by the New York Restoration Project, will take place at the Waldorf-Astoria.

“The divine Miss M is undeterred,” said New York Restoration Project publicist Roberta Greene of the organization’s founder, Bette Midler.

Its cause, planting trees and maintaining green spaces in the city, is timely in the wake of Sandy, which took out so many trees on the East Coast.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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