The Highline’s annual event
Annual events are tough. Many organizations depend on that particular evening to raise funds for the year. You want the event to be fun and perhaps different while getting across the heart grabbing message so people continue to give and support the organization. Not sure I have yet to go to an annual chicken dinner that I liked.
Last night was one of the High Line's annual events. There are only a million reasons why I love the High Line so I won't name them all. One of the many reasons for their success is the organization's people behind it. True professionals who get it and make sure that every t is crossed and every i is dotted. I continue to be impressed with them at every turn.
My guess is that there was a desire for the event to be hip and cutting edge at the same time. Isn't easy to make happen. People bitch about these events but at the end of the day there are a few things that are the key to success. Keep the speeches and presentations short. The majority of the time should be given to schmoozing with people that you see and your own group. Make sure the event takes place in one big room. It can be ungainly but there is something about going to the bathroom and bumping into people you know. It is a good thing to see other people you know there supporting something you both care about. You don't want to find out later that someone was there that you would have liked to see. If you are going to have an auction, have it between the appetizers and dinner. Make sure people are fully loaded with alcohol before having that portion of the event. Keep the wine glasses and water glasses full at all times. Make sure the give away at the end of the night is cool ( if there is one ) not something that was given by a sponsor. The High Line gave out a book that was on the art projects happening on the High Line. Total cool book that people will put out out on their coffee table which makes for smart fund raising. Make sure every person who buys a table gets one that is separate. If people buy single tickets it could be very clever to create a long table that is communal or sit them randomly at smaller tables if that is okay with the person who paid for the rest of the table. One thing the High Line did last night that I liked was the food was tapas style. A variety of plates filled with bite sized food which created conversation and a communal experience. Much better than a chicken or fish dish.
Last night was not one of the best but you only learn from your mistakes. Events are tough. There is a shit load of stress that goes into these events and everyone prays that the decisions that were made will prove to be clever and smart but it doesn't always work out that way. Remember who your audience is. Older people want to be catered to when they write the big check. Younger people want to socialize in a very different way.
Regardless, I am always happy to support the High Line on an annual basis. It is absolutely one of the most exciting interesting thrilling things that have changed the face of NYC in a long time. The change will continue into next spring when the High Line is extended to 30th street. That will change traffic patterns in the neighborhood, create economies in areas that have been grasping for an audience and give us all a very different view and perspective when looking at NYC.
Damn, I do love the High Line.