Rising food prices, a labor shortage and other supply chain issues led to the cancellation of one of Palm Springs’ most anticipated charity fundraising events, the Gala annual Evening Under the Stars.
The event is usually the biggest fundraiser of the year for AAP – Food Samaritans, a local non-profit organization that provides nutritional support to low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. .
The gala was scheduled to take place at O’Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs on April 30.
The Coachella Valley social scene has been ravaged by the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Previously scheduled fundraisers and events have been canceled due to public health concerns despite the huge financial implications. Today, philanthropic organizations may face a new challenge: inflation, which can turn lucrative events into net losses.
“I have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2022 gala, Evening Under the Stars. Everyone had hoped this would be the year to bring it back after the cancellations due to COVID over the past two years,” said Thursday executive director Mark Anton in a press release.
Anton cited prevailing economic conditions as the reason.
“The cumulative effects of supply chain issues, labor shortages, food cost increases and other factors have sent event spending skyrocketing into the stratosphere,” he said. he declares. “Catering alone for our traditional formal sit-down dinner increased by 43%, and all of our other costs increased by the same amount.”
Anton said the organization had analyzed all aspects of the event in hopes of finding a way to deliver the quality that supporters have come to expect while still raising funds, but “unfortunately this just isn’t possible” and that “cancellation, while regrettable, is the responsible thing to do.”
Federal data released Thursday shows prices as measured by the Personal Consumption Expenditure Index rose 6.4% in the first two months of the year, the fastest rate of inflation since 1982. The data released last week showed Riverside County’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in February, down from 8.7% a year earlier.
Frank Goldstin of Momentous Productions, who was hired by AAP to produce the event, told The Desert Sun he understands the organization’s decision to cancel.
“Evening Under the Stars was last held in 2019 – and fast forward to holding the event in 2022, post-pandemic, it’s a completely different world to the last time the event was held,” Goldstin said. “There are so many more costs associated with food, labor, infrastructure, everything that is part of this event. And this particular event is created in the middle of an open environment, on a golf course where literally everything has to be brought in, including things like security, valet parking, full catering, and full production. The cost associated with each of these areas in 2022 is much higher than last time that this event was organized in 2019.
“In this case and under these circumstances, I think the AAP is acting wisely,” Goldstin said. “They do this to ensure they are able to pursue their future and the ability to serve their customers.”
Goldstin has heard similar cost concerns from its customers.
“On many of our events we had to redesign them to be smaller,” he said. We have incorporated cost reduction measures to limit the exposure of some of our customers. So while you may have seen events from us that (served) over 700 in the past, after the pandemic, that number was scaled accordingly to, say, 350, because that what we were looking at doing was to reduce some of those costs and make sure we had the strongest supporters in the room to support this organization.”
As for the future, Goldstin is optimistic that there is light at the end of this tunnel, although adjustments need to be made.
“I think over the next year that’s going to change exponentially,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a reimagining of so many events because of the times we’re in, and that’s okay.”
“We are going to reinvent Evening under the stars for spring 2023”
Evening Under the Stars has become a mainstay of the desert philanthropy scene, featuring performances from notable talents like Gladys Knight and Darlene Love.
“We will be reimagining Night Under the Stars for Spring 2023 and look forward to a new format that will provide a spectacular experience for our guests while raising much-needed funds to help support the organization’s food stamp program,” said Anthony said. “We have hurdles ahead of us, but with time and some creative thinking and planning, Evening Under the Stars can continue to be a vehicle to share AAP-Food Samaritans’ mission and inspire people to get involved and support his work.
The AAP advises that while those who have already purchased tickets and/or tables will be refunded as requested, it asks patrons to consider returning their tickets/tables to the AAP as a sign of support for the organization.
For more information, call (760) 325-8481 or visit aapfoodsamaritans.org.
This is a developing story and will be updated.