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It May Be Time to Drop a Few Balls Around Town




Sidney Harman and Rep. Jane Harman dance at the Harman Center for the Arts gala Monday night. (James Brantley)

Mothball those ball gowns! Washington's black-tie blowouts are going the way of your 401(k). Monday's gala for the Shakespeare Theatre's Harman Center for the Arts took a hit -- and that's only the beginning of what looks like a seismic shift on the charity scene.
The $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser (honoring Chita Rivera, choreographers Rennie Harris and Peter Martins, and benefactor Sidney Harman) raised almost $900,000, but fell short of the $1.2 million goal -- even though most of the money was raised before the economy went south. Individual patrons were "very, very generous," but corporate donations fell off, co-chair Beth Dozoretz said. "We worked very hard. Usually these things happen with just a push. This was a lot of asking." To save money, designer David Stark filled the National Building Museum with white ribbon streamers and candles instead of flowers; organizers hired a DJ instead of a band.

Doesn't bode well for D.C.'s spring fundraisers, which will have to fight over donors or downscale dramatically. And what does this all mean for January's inauguration? Still too many of those overcrowded, underwhelming fancy balls, no doubt, but nothing like the $40 million celebrations of 2000 and 2004.

By The Reliable Source  |  October 29, 2008; 1:03 AM ET
Categories:  Parties  
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