Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

These boots were made for supporting the arts


Ruth Eckerd Hall was filled with red leather boots, black lacy boots, gold platform boots, lots of strappy high heels and plenty of enthusiasm at its Raise You Up gala celebrating the upcoming April run of Kinky Boots.

"This is the best one yet," Susan Benjamin, chairwoman of the performing arts center's special events committee, said of the theme. Other galas based on themes of Saturday Night Live, Flash Dance and Memphis, were great, but Kinky Boots raises the level of creativity and festivity, she added.

In a nod to some of the Broadway hit's characters, elegant drag queens welcomed guests on the red carpet and posed for photos.

"Nice outfit darling," Stephanie Shippae said to a man wearing shorts and a blue blazer with silver platform heels. Has she seen Kinky Boots yet?

"Oh gosh yes. Four times."

Alan Bomstein marveled at how far Ruth Eckerd Hall has come since he was one of the small group of people getting the project started in the late 1970s.

Home builder Charles Rutenberg, one of the original supporters, insisted on using architects trained under Frank Lloyd Wright at his Taliesin West school, he recounted.

"The design had to be world class," Bomstein said. Since then, he and wife, Nancy Bomstein,have been regulars at shows and fund raisers.

"Nancy and I are big supporters of the arts. When you think of the fabric of the community, this is what you want to keep alive."

One of his favorite shows over the years was Paul Simon several years ago. "This was his post-Africa phase and he was really into percussion. He must have had 40 instruments on stage," Bomstein recalled.

"This is world-class entertainment," said David Abelson, who co-chaired the gala with his wife, Jeanie, and son Adam. "All three of our children have been through Ruth Eckerd Hall summer programs."

Adam Abelson recalled fun times that somehow weren't scary at all at clown camp.

César and Penelope Lara raved about educational programs. "They go out and recruit kids who can't afford them on their own," Penelope Lara said.

"They learn to appreciate the gifts they have within," César Lara said. "The children come from all different backgrounds, each bringing their own uniqueness."

The gala brought in $432,800. The proceeds will fund a four-week, tuition-free intensive camp for 25 local aspiring singer-songwriters who couldn't afford it on their own. Money raised will also go toward the theater's new Teachers Without Borders program, which enables Ruth Eckerd teachers to offer free arts instruction at local schools and community centers.


The Burg Exchange Club, in conjunction with Arts Conservatory for Teens, raised more than $10,000 to go toward programs promoting arts for low-income and at-risk youth.

Guests, some dressed in "Golden Age of Hollywood" attire, included Zachary Gibson, Kathleen Cowan and Nikki Gaskin-Capehart.

The conservatory's programs include musical instruction, dance classes, art lessons and mentoring before and after school. The nonprofit organization has served hundreds of students over the last four years, with 100 percent of its students graduating high school, and nearly 80 percent going on to higher education.



Fashion, Talent and Stroke Prevention: Hear from a medical expert on the warning signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke, as well as see a talent and fashion show. Donations only. Benefits American Heart Association. 6 p.m. The Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg.


Boley Angels Low Country Boil: Fine wines, appetizers and a low country shrimp boil with all the fixings. Benefits Boley Centers. 5 p.m., Mary R. Koenig Center, 647 34th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. $50. (727) 821-4819, ext. 5724.

A Night in the Roarrring '20s: Music by Gloria West and the Gents, food, cash bar and auctions. Benefits Friends of Strays Animal Shelter. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mirror Lake Lyceum, 737 Third Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $125-$150. (727) 522-6566.

Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation Gala: 6 p.m. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive. $150. (727) 587-6793.

Craft Beer Garden Octoberfest: Benefits Santa's Angels. 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friendship Park, Second Street and 164th Avenue, Redington Beach. $30 advance, $35 day of. (727) 393-0100.


Pearls of Wisdom: The Purses and Passion auction and networking session precedes a luncheon awards ceremony. Benefits the YWCA. 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Parkway, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, St. Petersburg. $60. (727) 896-4629.

These boots were made for supporting the arts 09/27/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 2:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.