Calling all opera, wine, food and travel lovers—aka everyone! (The committee behind the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Women’s Board Wine Auction, a fundraising initiative that has raised more than $11 million for Lyric since 1988, is urging those with an ability to do so to join in on a “social distancing campaign” in support of the sponsors of the 2018 auction (which raised a record $2.2 million and was named a top charity wine auction by Wine Spectator) and the featured vintners already in place for the 2021 gala.
“As we started to reach out to potential restaurants, wineries and travel company partners, I started to get uncomfortable,” says Erica Sandner, the chair of the Wine Auction Committee and a Lyric board member, about planning the 2021 auction. “Rather than ask how they can help us, there has to be way to reach out and push something out to help them.”
According to Sandner, many wine auction supporters return year after year and have become valuable partners. “It’s a way for Lyric to reach out to its broad base of supporters to recognize and appreciate these businesses that have been so generous,” she says.
As for Lyric itself, more than 300 artists there spent the last six years preparing to present Richard Wagner’s complete Ring cycle, which was to reach audiences from all 50 states and nearly 30 countries. In the wake of Illinois and Chicago mandates that large-scale public performances be canceled, Lyric Opera had to cancel the Ring cycle performances (Lyric Opera’s other May and June performances have been moved to upcoming seasons).
The cancellations and the expenses of rehearsing and preparing productions is reflected in a $15–$20 million loss. The Lyric board of directors chair-elect Sylvia Neil, along with her husband Dan Fischel, have started The Heroes’ Fund, with the goal of raising $7.5 million to support Lyric during this challenging time. Supporters are invited to make charitable contributions, which will be matched, or to donate their tickets for Ring, Götterdämmerung, and 42ND Street back to Lyric as contribution. Support through the Valhalla Circle giving society will also be matched by The Heroes’ Fund.
As a patron, Sandner is saddened to not get to see the Ring cycle but excited about the effort to help partners and sponsors, an effort she said was instantly embraced by the board. “Everyone thought it was a great idea,” she says. “A lot of people are out of work.”
How You Can Help
Sandner has offered easy ways to help Lyric sponsors and partners—simply order some wine (a bottle or a case!) from listed vintners, buy gift cards or order take-out from listed restaurants, or book that trip from listed travel companies that you know you’ll want to take after the pandemic subsides.
Support Vintner Sponsors in Place for the 2021 Gala:
Support 2018 Vintner Sponsors:
Support 2018 Dining Sponsors:
Support 2018 Travel Sponsors:
For more from Better:
- These Chicago Organizations Need Your Help Right Now
- Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford Brings a Compelling Vision For Farmers And The Future Of Food Despite COVID-19 Distribution Challenges
- These Chicago Movie Theaters Are Offering Content to Stream at Home
Daniel Jewett has been a Bay Area journalist for more than two decades, getting his start as editor of his hometown newspaper, the Foster City Progress. Jewett went on to serve as Associate Editor for Oakland and Alameda magazines before crossing the bridge to serve as Marin Magazine and Spaces’ Managing Editor. Jewett still calls Oakland home, where he writes and plays music with his wife in My Little Hum and hangs out with his chickens, bees and cats, Holly and Maple.