Casita Maria’s longtime gala Co-Chair Jacqueline Weld Drake was describing it to honoree Baz Luhrmann over dinner the night before. “Like a lot of other events,” Luhrmann said, “except apparently at the end, the dancing is off the hook.” The Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education’s annual black tie’s “Fiesta 2015,” at the Plaza, was indeed a melange of Manhattan’s more glamorous supporters of the Latino community. Luhrmann, John Bernbach and Veronique and Bob Pittman were honored. Jimmy Smits presented the Gold Medal award to Luhrmann and Stephen A. Schwarzman paid tribute to John Bernbach.
Luhrmann is directing Smits in the new Netflix series “The Get Down,” taping now in the same Bronx neighborhood that Casita Maria serves, providing high quality social, cultural, and educational opportunities to lift up disadvantaged youth and their families. Luhrmann’s music-driven series follows a South Bronx teenaged crew in the gritty late 70s, against the backdrop of the emergence of Disco, hip-hop and punk.
Luhrmann said he came from a small, cold, country town with only 11 houses. But creativity can flourish anywhere. “I was doing the same thing I’m doing now in this little place. I was making films without a camera,” shared Luhrmann. “Amazing shows by the way. There was no possibility to access art and at one stage of my life, someone reached out and helped, in fact, more than someone, an organization.”
Casita Maria is unlocking that kind of creativity in their community. Outgoing Director Sarah Calderon wore it literally on her sleeve. Her dress was painted by TatsCru – a famous Bronx graffiti crew. “The idea for a graffiti dress,” Calderon explained, “was inspired by our high school youth, who, as part of their ArtWorks Internship this summer, were charged with creating a dress for me for the gala.”
“Fiesta 2015” Honorary Chairs were Violaine Bernbach, France Chrétien Desmarais, Bertha Fonzalez and Mishele Wells, Nicole Kidman, John Leuizamo, and Sting and Trudie Styler. Pachanga Chairman were Carolina Alverez, Stephanie Bilet, Alexandre Levant, and Peter Levin.
Guests attending the soiree included Fabiola Arias, Coromoto Atencio, Peter Bacanovic, Candace and Rick Beinecke, Stephanie Bilet, Martha Bograd, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Brodsky, Amy Fine Collins, Robert Couturier, Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Cullman Jr., Arlene Dahl, France Desmarais, Brian and Joanna Fisher, Jamee and Peter Gregory, Mai Hallingby, Marlene Hess, Michèle Gerber Klein, Margo Langenberg, Nina Lawrence, Mercedes Levin, Kamie Lightburn, William Ivey Long, Catherine Martin, Izhar Patkin, Liz and Jeff Peek, Peter and Judy Price, Ann Rapp, Susan and David Rockefeller, Ben Rodrigues-Cubenas, Patti Ruiz- Healy, Stephen and Christine Schwarzman, Hunt Slonem, Vernon and Naomi Taylor, Barbara and Donald Tober, Evelyn Tompkins, Jose Maria and Alexandra Trullols and Tanya and David Tisch.
For more information, visit www.casitamaria.org.