Kevin Spacey Sings for Arts Education
While education and arts budgets are being obliterated in public schools throughout the country, Napa Valley School District is the fortunate recipient of the funds raised from a once-tiny festival started a decade ago. Festival del Sole had this crazy idea of bringing world class talent—like the Russian National Orchestra, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Redford, and Sophia Loren—to a small plot a land only known for winemaking. Ten years later, this festival has become a force for fundraising—and star power.
Founder Rick Walker shares, “From the beginning, it has been our goal to raise money to finance programs dedicated to youth and arts education. Culture and arts are critical for young students’ development. This is a vital need that is not being fulfilled via the public school system. For example, one of the programs we support is a choral program (think Glee) with 200 students involved, and the program only receives $600 a year in funding from the school district. With our help we are able to fund this program, so all the students who want to be involved can. Part of what we are doing is making Napa a more vital place to live and raise children who care about the arts and education. We fund free community concerts, master classes, open rehearsals, ticket giveaway programs for youth, veterans, and elderly throughout the year. We also help purchase instruments for band members.”
Money raised also provides scholarships for Napa Valley Youth Symphony students. Through the Wish List program the festival provides much-needed funding to Napa Valley performing arts for classroom supplies, production costs, teacher support, and many other requests. Last year, Festival del Sole was able to fulfill every wish submitted by elementary school educators!! This year, Festival del Sole will be funding Middle and High School public school arts programs.
To help raise money for these programs, Kevin Spacey, a.k.a. the notorious Francis Underwood of the Netflix sensation House of Card, will be singing popular standards from the swing era at the Annual Festival Gala held on the lawn at Meadowood. As well as performing at the festival, Kevin Spacey is donating a once-in-a-lifetime trip to attend the premier of his next movie Elvis & Nixon. Included in the donation is a private meeting with “President Nixon” who is played by Spacey. This trip will be sold during the live auction. Last year, funds raised from the auction were a record-breaking $1.38 million dollars.
Unfortunately, tickets to the Kevin Spacey Meadowood gala are sold out, but the festival is ten days and there are a few free events on the schedule including the Bouchaine Young Artist Concerts.
Since the beginning, Gerret and Tatiana Copeland have sponsored the free Bouchaine Young Artist Concerts. “So much of the media promotes rock music. The children in school don’t get exposed to classical music, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to experience the joys of classical music in a beautiful environment—for free!” Shares Tatiana Copeland. “This is our gift to the young, hopeful musicians in our community.” Along with sponsoring the free concerts, Gerret and Tatiana Copeland also give three music scholarships to the young performers who have been chosen by the festival to perform at the Bouchaine Young Artist Concerts. “Having these young performers is a big inspiration to the local youth.” Tatiana Copeland continues.
How can your school district create a festival that raises millions of dollars and attracts major talent from around the world? Some words of advice from the founder Rick Walker:
- Know why you are doing it: We are clear about raising funds for youth arts and cultural programs.
- Find enthusiastic supporters: connect with those who have the same goals and mission to create positive change.
- Create a strong, supportive team and empower them to be visionaries.
- Dream big: Pick up the phone and call the entertainers and stars you want to have involved.
- Don’t give up: We have been doing this for ten years. Each year we get better talent, raise more money and continue to increase our giving to our children and schools.
- Remember, every community has potential.
The festival runs from Friday, July 17 to Sunday, July 26. Perfect for a girlfriend getaway, events include Yoga in the Vineyard at Solage Calistoga to over-the-top dinners like Patron Dinner at Buena Vista with famed Jean-Charles Boisset, considered on of the most powerful people in the wine world.
WHAT: Festival del Sole
WHEN: Multiple events taking place from Friday, July 17 to Sunday, July 26
WHY: Experience the best that Napa Valley and the performing arts while raising money for students
HOW: Buy your tickets here.