Sculp­ture gar­dens axes tree fes­ti­val

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By JAN SJOSTROM

The Ann Norton Sculp­ture Gar­dens is dis­con­tin­u­ing its decade-old Fes­ti­val of Trees to con­cen­trate on less la­bor-in­ten­sive, at­ten­tion-grab­bing and rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing events sched­uled through­out the sea­son.

The nearly two-week fes­ti­val in early De­cem­ber drew about 4,300 vis­i­tors to view more than two dozen dec­o­rated trees po­si­tioned through­out the gar­dens in West Palm Beach. The fes­ti­val, with its open­ing night and chil­dren’s galas, was the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s most prof­itable fundraiser.

“It’s been an event that’s en­gaged the com­mu­nity on a mag­i­cal level for a decade,” board chair­woman Frances Fisher said. “But we want to of­fer sub­stan­tive and high cal­iber ex­hi­bi­tions and events through­out the sea­son that will en­able us to be more com­mu­nity-serv­ing and en­hance rev­enues.”

The fes­ti­val didn’t make enough money to jus­tify the toll it took on the orga- niza­tion’s small staff, she said.

Each year, the fes­ti­val had a dif­fer­ent theme.

Palm Beach in­te­rior de­signer Joseph Pu­bil­lones, who led the de­sign com­mit­tee for sev­eral years, re­calls craft­ing a tree from fur­ni­ture scraps in the style of sculp­tor Louise Nevel­son for the 2010 fes­ti­val, which had a fa­mous artists theme.

“I’m go­ing to miss it dearly,” he said of the fes­ti­val. “It marked the hol­i­day sea­son in a fes­tive way and was fun for both adults and kids.”

Board mem­ber Jen­nifer Gar­rigues, who suc­ceeded Pu­bil­lones as head of the de­sign com­mit­tee, said “we’re all a lit­tle dispir­ited, but we want what’s best for the Ann Norton.”

Trees she’s de­signed in­clude last year’s Flint­stones tree for the De­sign through the Decades theme. She dressed up as Wilma for the open­ing.

She also created a New York tree in 2014 for the states theme that fea­tured the state bird, flower and fish, Broad­way mar­quees and taxi­cabs.

Ini­tia­tives such as a part­ner­ship be­gun last sea­son with the Palm Beach Mod­ern + Con­tem­po­rary fair bet­ter serve the gar­dens’ goals to pro­fes­sion­al­ize the or­ga­ni­za­tion and stick to founder Ann Norton’s vi­sion, said Roger Ward, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

Last sea­son’s So­phie Ry­der ex­hi­bi­tion, or­ga­nized by fair ex­hibitor Water­house & Dodd, al­lowed the gar­dens to cre­ate a new fundraiser that drew a wider cir­cle of col­lec­tors and sup­port­ers, Ward said. The show posted record at­ten­dance, at­tracted more out-of-county vis­i­tors and sea­sonal res­i­dents and pro­duced an uptick in new mem­ber­ships, he said.

The Ry­der show, which ran from mid-Jan­uary through April, in­creased Jan­uary through April at­ten­dance by 62 per­cent over the same pe­riod last year. New mem­ber­ships climbed by 250 per­cent.

Photo by Krys­tal Zaskey Photography

The Ann Norton Sculp­ture Gar­dens’ Fes­ti­val of Trees fea­tured more than two dozen dec­o­rated trees. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is re­tir­ing the decade-old hol­i­day tra­di­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.