Ringling College of Art and Design’s 21st Annual Scholarship Event was held on March 18 at Ringling College of Art and Design.
On March 18, in a galaxy far, far away (the Ringling College of Art and Design campus), art education supporters from across the galaxy (Sarasota County) dressed in their finest space attire to blast off into one of the most unique fundraisers of the season.
Guests at the Ringling College of Art and Design’s 21st Annual Scholarship Event, An Evening at the Avant-Garde: Light Years Ahead gathered to benefit and celebrate the school that recently saw 23 of its graduates receive an Oscar for their work on the best animated feature film “Zootopia.”
The evening began with a lively cocktail hour during which guests not only enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres but took advantage of some stellar activities such as viewings of the mini planetarium and trips to another galaxy à la virtual reality simulations. Cocktail hour was interrupted, however, when a mysterious spacecraft (spacecraft-shaped bouncy house) was unveiled on the lawn of the school. Several green-skinned extraterrestrials (costumed students) crept out of the UFO before, through a cloud of smoke, appeared their king and queen: Ringling College of Art and Design President Larry Thompson and his wife, Pat Thompson.
After cocktail hour and its dramatic intermission were over, guests enjoyed a Michael’s On East dinner buffet and served chocolate “black hole” cake for dessert before the program began. After opening regards from Larry Thompson and Beldar and Prymaat Conehead (event Co-Chairs Sherry and Tom Koski), finalists for the 2017 Avant-Garde Endowed Scholarship for Campus Volunteerism took to the stage.
Runner-ups Nathan Clark and Rosadia Fortunato received $2,000 scholarships courtesy of Steve and Joann Stein, and the 2017 award winner Nahman L’hrar, an illustration student in the class of 2018, received a $5,000 scholarship thanks to Susan Palmer and her late husband Roy Palmer.
L’hrar’s acceptance speech was a moving tale that explained his difficult journey to Ringling, which was a story of negligent parents and an upbringing made possible by the Israeli welfare system — a life of triumph in the face of adversity. The speech ended with a roar of applause and standing ovation.
Guests then took part in one of the most interactive Michael Klauber-led paddle raises of the season, the “Crossing the Finish Line” paddle raise, which benefits students who experience financial difficulty in their final two years at Ringling. Event-goers watched the digital donation ticker climb to nearly $187,900 by the end of the this portion of the evening, which got everyone in the right celebratory state of mind before the final event: dancing to the energetic Blonde Ambition Band.