Event raises $75K for programs at The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach


The second annual Beaches, A Celebration of the Arts raised $75,000 to support educational programs at The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach. The fundraising event was held May 23 at The Surf Club Patio at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.

The Cultural Center has been a gathering place to learn, experience and appreciate the arts and culture in its many forms for more than 26 years. It offers opportunities for adults, children and families through classes, exhibits, programs, music therapy services for children with special needs, activities and memberships open to the local community.

The recent event generated funding for the nonprofit and provided positive economic impact in the region through support for local businesses, individuals and nonprofits.

Highlights of the evening included local honorary chairs Ron and Hilah Autrey and the prestigious Beaches Award named after arts philanthropist Irene Lazzara. Additionally, Dr. Arun Gulani and The Gulani Vision Institute sponsored “Bespoke on the Boulevard,” featuring Gulani’s personally designed global fashions and fabrics, and a men’s suit jacket hand-painted by renowned Italian artist Mario Della Penta of St. Augustine.

Exclusively for the event, Gulani personally re-designed gently used men’s and women’s suits collected from locally curated collections to benefit artists and veterans who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Suits will be donated to those in need at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 17, at The Gulani Vision Institute, 8075 Gate Pkwy. W., Suites 102 and 103 in Jacksonville.

Event funds were raised from ticket sales, sponsorship packages, program and signage advertising opportunities and more. Individuals, businesses and organizations within the coastal counties from Amelia Island to St. Augustine Beach who have enhanced arts and culture in the region were recognized.

According to Donna Guzzo, president and executive director of the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach, the evening featured key award recipients who have dedicated their expertise, philanthropy and services to the nonprofit throughout the year.

David Wedow was named volunteer of the year. Together with his wife Barbara, who also won the award in 2019, Wedow spent many hours volunteering, organizing, cataloguing, inventorying and storing supplies, props, musical instruments and artwork, and providing fundraising event assistance.

The Wedows are retired from professional work and volunteer in the area. They have resided in Ponte Vedra Beach since the 1980s.

Award categories and honors were received in a variety of categories with Jenn Peck receiving the Emerging Artist Award. Caelen Proctor won the Chairman’s Choice Award. Word Revolt, a nonprofit studio gallery in Atlantic Beach dedicated to hosting free events that benefit artists, charities and the community, received the Community Impact Award. Anne Marie Moquin with Beaches Go Green, a local environmental awareness nonprofit organization won the Arts Education and Advocacy award. The Art of Giving Award went to the DuBow Family Foundation, which has provided funding for arts programs throughout the region. All Beaches Experimental Theatre was honored with the Irene Lazzara – Beaches, A Celebration of the Arts Award, as a local nonprofit volunteer-based community theater in Atlantic Beach.

“We were pleased to honor many local creative professionals and volunteers who generously shared their time and knowledge to help the center and our beaches communities, especially during this challenging year with the pandemic,” said Guzzo. “The support from our patrons and donors during the year has been breathtaking.”

Guzzo expressed appreciation for the numerous donations from local and statewide event planners and professionals who produced the fashion show, runway and florals. Flowers selected by Guzzo were transported from Miami and grown in the South American country of Colombia.

Specifically, she recognized Fortanelli Floral Design, Sparkle Balloons by Anette, Mugwump Productions and DJProShow. Additional sponsors included The Lazzara Foundation, Claude Nolan Cadillac, Flagler Health+, Pivot CPAs, Tom Bush, Gary LeVeille Photography, Ponte Vedra Recorder, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Truist Wealth, Miller Electric, Marks Gray Lawyers of Enterprise, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida and All American Air, and Vic Micolucci as emcee from WJXT-TV.

For more information, call 904-280-0614 ext. 1202 or go to https://www.ccpvb.org.

The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach is located at 3972 Third Street South in Jacksonville Beach. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with after-hour appointments available.


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