Grab your grand hats and head to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center for “An Evening at the Kentucky Derby” on Saturday, May 5 from 5:30-9 p.m. A “Run for the Roses” viewing party and fundraiser  will be held as the final event of the “Dinner with Berne” series to benefit the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center’s multi-million dollar building restoration project. 

 

Guests will view the Run for the Roses pre-show, followed by the “most exciting two minutes in sports” while enjoying traditional derby-style cuisine and sipping mint juleps. Admission to the event is $100 and includes a mint julep or glass of champagne, with southern fare. Tables are available for $1,000, and include reserved seating for eight, a glass of champagne or Early Times mint julep, two bottles of wine and patron listing in the event program. Presented by co-chairs Pamela Templeton and Janice Kemp, the evening features a live musical performance by world-renowned jazz musician Wycliffe Gordon and a jazz quartet.

Located at 2301 First Street in Fort Myers, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center sits on property once home to the original fort of “Fort Myers.” In 1933, the 23,000-square-foot building opened as a U.S. Post Office and was converted into a federal courthouse in the 1960’s. Eventually, it was vacated in 1998 after a new courthouse was built nearby.

In 2003, Florida Arts, Inc., the operator of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, acquired a 99-year lease on the building from the City of Fort Myers. They agreed to meld the past with the future by restoring the building to its original magnificence and creating a modern, multi-purpose arts facility. Through grant funding and private donations, including a lead gift from the building’s namesakes Sidney & Berne Davis, nearly 10,000 square feet of the building has been restored to date which continuously provides world-class arts programming to the community.

The next phase of the restoration includes completion of the mezzanine level, second floor and the building’s rooftop. Approximately 2,500 square feet, mezzanine level will include the light and sound booth, as well as an artists’ greenroom, funded by Florida Power and Light. The 5,000-square-foot second level will be the “capital gallery.” This multi-functional floor will provide space for dance and ensemble rehearsal, meeting and office rooms, as well as multiple classrooms for visual arts education, music and dance lessons. The plan also includes design of a two-level rooftop with an elevator landing and a “star bar.” One level will feature an outdoor sculpture garden and the other will serve as a reception area. Construction of the elevator is currently in progress and expected to be completed this summer.

“These renovations will greatly enhance the level of cultural programming that we can provide to the community,” says Pamela Templeton, event co-chair. “Now more than ever, we need the support of the community. ‘An evening at the Kentucky Derby’ gives the community a great opportunity to contribute towards the next phase of restorations while enjoying an exciting and fun evening,” says Templeton. “Our hope is to have the building complete in Berne Davis’ lifetime, so that she can join us in introducing a new state-of-the-art venue for music, arts and performance to Southwest Florida.” 

Free valet parking will be provided at the event by Frey Valet, and patrons are encouraged to attend in full, traditional derby attire, including fabulous hats! For tickets or more information, visit www.sbdac.com or call 239-333-1933.