Seattle Men's Chorus hosts 13th annual auction
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Seattle Men's Chorus hosts 13th annual auction
by Tim Peter - SGN Staff Writer

Nearly 500 people attended the 13th annual silent auction sponsored by Seattle Men's and Women's Choruses Saturday, April 18.

"Turnout was good," said Karl Otto, development director for the choruses. Not as many people [showed] as in years past, but still a good number."

"We had fewer new folks attending and a lower amount of money raised than we had hoped," said Stuart Rosenthal, executive director of Flying House Productions, the parent company for the choruses. "But this is what many groups are experiencing. The days of the grand gala, I wouldn't say that they're passed, but they are becoming more challenging to put on, so we're exploring other options for fundraising."

"It definitely was a successful event for those who attended," said Rosenthal. "Our core supporters came out in force. They know that we, like other arts organizations, are being battered about by the economy. But they [knew] they [were] needed, and they showed."

Although the final numbers are not yet available, Otto and Rosenthal both said they estimated that approximately $300,000 was raised at the auction. Otto said this is the largest fundraiser of the year for the choruses, with ticket sales bringing in about half of the necessary revenue.

Rosenthal added, "It was definitely our friends, our ongoing supporters, who helped this event still be a success in spite of what's going on with the economy. The total is a wonderful tribute to the support we have in the community."

"This year's theme was taken from the movie Hairspray," Otto said. "Members of the choruses performed scenes from the film during the evening, which everyone enjoyed quite a bit."

Eric Lane Barnes, assistant artistic director, produced and directed this year's show.

Otto said that the organization wanted to focus its bids on local and regional travel this year, believing that people would want to stay closer to home. These items included a Walla Walla winery vacation with two double-occupancy rooms for two nights, a private touring of Abeja Winery and six magnums of Tamarac Sellers Merlot; as well as two Palm Springs vacations, donated by a supporter for people to stay in his mid-century house for a week.

He added that they still offered other big-ticket travel opportunities, as well. "[We had] great cruises that Holland America was very generous to donate." Their items included two seven-day cruises and two 10-day cruises, each for two people. The winner gets to pick their destinations based on the company's available locations at the time of sailing.

Another item for bidders was a week's vacation on a 2500-acre estate in Tuscany, Italy. This included an apartment for up to four people as well as trip planning. Your Enchanted Italy, a business locally owned by Brent Crook, donated this.

"One of our favorite [auction items] every year is the chance to conduct Seattle Men's & Women's Choruses," Otto said.

The Seattle Storm also donated a signed jersey from guard Sheryl Swoopes.

"The most successful part of the evening was the part called Fund the Mission," Otto said. "People make direct donations to the outreach efforts of the choruses (which) helps fund our concerts out of town where people might not have as much exposure to Gay life. When we do these out-of-town events we partner with local organizations such as PFLAG. Having funding to do this is a benefit to them so that it isn't a drain on other organizations."

Otto said that because they receive more donations than they can reasonably auction off at once, they will host an after-auction sale for other merchandise. He said the details should be posted on their website ( in about a week.