BAM Honors Cate Blanchett and Zadie Smith in First-Ever Virtual Gala

From left, Virtual Gala 2020 honorees Cate Blanchett; Zadie Smith; Jeanne Donovan Fisher. Courtesy of BAM.

Tomorrow, BAM will honor acclaimed actor, director, and humanitarian Cate Blanchett, renowned author and part-time New York resident Zadie Smith, and philanthropist and theater producer Jeanne Donovan Fisher for their contributions to film, literature, theater, and cultural philanthropy at its Virtual Gala 2020.

BAM has been hosting galas since it opened in 1861 and, since 2018, the galas have honored several artists alongside a donor. Last year, actor Ethan Hawke and writer Walter Mosley were honored along with board vice chair William I. Campbell and Christine Wachter-Campbell. The 2020 Gala will be hosted virtually for the first time, in accordance with COVID-19 safety and social distancing guidelines, and will be open to the public.

“Moving to an online, virtual format gives BAM an exciting opportunity to open its gala experience to a wider audience, pay tribute to our amazing honorees in new ways, and gather the arts community in a challenging time,” BAM President Katy Clark said today. “We are excited to share this unique experience as part of our current digital Love from BAM programming. Our greatest concern right now is for everyone’s health and safety. When we can safely come together once again, we’ll look forward to seeing you at BAM.”

Blanchett has appeared at BAM in the title role of Hedda Gabler in 2006, and as the character Blanche in the 2009 performance of A Streetcar Named Desire. Smith appeared at BAM in 2007 and 2016 for the Eat, Drink, & Be Literary series, as well as the Unbound book launch series in 2014. Fisher, a BAM trustee, was elected to BAM’s board in 2006, and serves on BAM’s film committee.

The Gala will feature performances from several award-winning artists and groups, including multiple Grammy Award-winning artist St. Vincent; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Hope Boykin; longtime member of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Julie Anne Stanzak; New York house music DJ, Eli Escobar; and the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The annual BAM Art Auction will launch on the day of the Gala, and run online through May 27th.

Several of the artists will perform tributes to the honorees, including a dance solo by Stanzak, filmed by French filmmaker Nathalie Larquet, in honor of Blanchett; an original short performance film for Smith, performed by Boykin; and a performance by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus of a Phillip Glass composition, under the direction of the chorus’ founder and artistic director, Dianne Berkun Menaker. St. Vincent will also perform in celebration of BAM, and Escobar will emcee a “living room dance party” to close out the evening.

The Virtual Gala’s chairs are BAM Vice Chair William I. Campbell, Christine Wachter-Campbell, BAM Chairman Emeritus Alan H. Fishman, and Judith R. Fishman. The artistic director for the Gala is award-winning theater and film director Maureen Towey.

The Gala begins at 8 pm on BAM.org. Viewers are invited to make contributions throughout the evening, and 10% of contributions will be given to the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Donate here.

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Rachel Lindy Baron

Rachel is a reporter for Bklyner and recent Brooklyn transplant who is a bit obsessed with food.

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