When the their Summer Gala turned out to be the same night as nearby Trump fundraisers, the calls to Guild Hall’s Director of Philanthropy Kristine Eberstadt began. “Are you going to be okay?” everyone asked. That morning 27 had been closed. “It just tells you that, at Guild Hall, we really do have the heart of the community,” Eberstadt gushed.
Trump traffic had been an ominous cloud of concern. But, true to the Gala theme – “ugo rondinone: sunny days” – that evening, traffic was lighter than normal. And we breezed up 27 to find ourselves immersed in golden orbs filling Guild Hall’s galleries. “‘Sunny Days,'” Eberstadt proclaimed. “That’s what we intend to celebrate, the sunny side of life and the good things that are to come. We’ve been here since the 30s and we are still getting stronger. We’re a multifaceted institution for all people.” Guild Hall presents big names in a small space. “Our stage has only 350 seats,” Eberstadt continued. “So, you have a very intimate experience with the artist. You can see them sweat! Unlike larger institutions, here everybody gets close.”
Among the big names supporting the evening were Host Committee members Brooke Shields, Julianne Moore, Katie Lee, and Vito Schnabel. Artist Committee members were Laurie Anderson, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Mary Heilmann, Tony Oursler and Cindy Sherman. Bob Colacello, of Warhol fame, was the emcee. Long-time trustee and New Line Cinema Co-Chair Michael Lynne was honored in memoriam.
Salman Rushdie arrived for the weekend. “I’ve been to many number of shows in Guild Hall one the years,” he told Hamptons.com. “So, it’s nice to come out and support. I’m feeling very nostalgic because I used to have a place in Bridgehampton, a long time ago. This summer, I was in Italy, in Naples, Amalfi and Capri. Now I’m back, preparing to go on a book tour.”
Other supporters included: Broadway Producers Bonnie Comley and Stewart Lane, Ross Bleckner, Alice Aycock, Maria Bacardi, Judith Ripka and Ronald Berk, Caroline Hirsch, “Baby Jane” Jane Holzer, Vered, Henry and Peggy Schleiff, Linda Macklowe, Judith Hope, Kim Heirston, Nancy Jane and Jeffrey Lowey.
Keeping Guild Hall’s future bright was certainly on Executive Director Andrea Grover’s mind. “We are approaching our 90th anniversary in 2021,” she told us. “So, it’s an opportunity to look back and forward. The institution is really the history of American theater and American visual arts. We have plans to really bring it forward for contemporary audiences, while maintaining the programming that we’ve always loved: music, theater, dance, performance, film, visual arts. We’ll remain true to our foundational roots as a multidisciplinary center that is artist driven and made for celebration of creativity in everyone. But, we’ll add more experimentation and forward thinking approaches to the arts.”
In the immediate future is a rare Phillip Glass concert. “You won’t find that anywhere else in the country,” Grover told us. “We are also co presenting the Artists and Writers Softball Game; a Stirring the Pot series with Florence Fabricant that is just off-the-chart, wonderful, with interviews from celebrity chefs; the Hamptons Institute conversations about current political events and issues that are the most pressing of our time, both locally and globally. And we still have another 40 or 50 programs to go just in August. It’s three things a day, sometimes. Pick up our guide or look at GuildHall.org.”