Women’s Auxiliary Music in the Garden World Rhythms

By Joanne A Calitri   |   October 11, 2018
In the MAW fountain garden with Women's Auxiliary chair Evie Vesper and event co-chairs Ms Judy Astbury and Ms Kaye Willette

The Music Academy of the West’s [MAW] esteemed Women’s Auxiliary [MAWWA] under the dynamic leadership of chair Evie Vesper, is launching a new direction for the first time in 47 years, with its first – and soon to be annual – Music in the Garden event on Sunday, October 21, at the academy. The occasion is open to the public, and to the world via its online outreach, and is currently the hottest ticket in town.

Meeting in September 2017 to examine the input versus output reality on continuing its May Madness rummage sale, the MAWWA decided in a landslide vote of 47 to 2 to replace it with anevent where the public can experience the MAW in closer relation to its mission of music, thus launching their first Music in the Gardens affair. Here, one can leisurely enjoy the landscape and gardens of the MAW, hear six different professional world music mini-orchestras paired with five cultural matches of wines and food menus prepared fresh on-site by renowned chefs. The event has also rolled back the ticket price at least 15 years for events of this nature, to $125 per person inclusive of all libations.

The Women’s Auxiliary of 175 women strong has been full-on with each member and sustaining member volunteering her expertise in music, art, culinary arts, and wine, as well as ramping up an international presence via the event online auction. They have been working daily since last year to bring this top-shelf gala to the local community at large to participate in person or all who support music by reaching out online.

The women did much due diligence to create a successful event, with spent time researching and interviewing vendors, doing business as a group on a more professional level, rather than riding literally on the well-worn heels of May Madness. It’s no wonder the entire auxiliary is on board and has reignited the sustaining members to lend a direct hand. Leading by example, every member of the MAWWA has purchased a ticket, [or two!] for the event and will be able to enjoy it, as another VIP group of well-vetted volunteers will be on duty, from techies with iPads for the auction to hands-on wine pourers. A much-needed relief from the auxiliary from the truly laborious May Madnesssale needing approximately 100 volunteers.

I spent an afternoon interviewing Evie and her co-chairs, Ms Judy Astbury and Ms Kaye Willette, who are most excited with the new look and outreach for their long-established auxiliary. Evie said, “It’s our goal to bring the public to the MAW campus, especially those who have never been here before, to experience its true mission, both music education and performance, its beautiful gardens, and invite them to visit us in the summer with their families for the music programs. Our new event, which replaces the May Madness Sale, is more in line with the mission of the MAW than May Madness ever was. 

“It’s a brand-new day for the Women’s Auxiliary and it’s very fun. We are all excited and involved, everyone is seeing the Women’s Auxiliary in a different way, and we like that. Gardens is an all-year-long effort, thus changing the face of the auxiliary because we are now really embracing being a fund-raising organization to support the MAW and what they achieve. We talked with Scott Reed, MAW president and CEO, first before we put this to vote with the auxiliary, and he was in full support of our new efforts. We have also partnered with the MAW administrative team and the board, it’s very fruitful to work this way.”

Co-chair Judy added, “Our auxiliary women come from marketing backgrounds, advertising and art, they take the job and run with it, they are madly talented and do it well – for example, putting out to bid for the food caterers and using their tech expertise for online auctioning and sponsorship packages. Whereas May Madness needed more of the brawn as it was labor-intensive last year, it broke my heart as two-thirds of the items were not sold. Our women volunteers spent countless hours to do it, yet the time in versus the results out left room for something better. Even though we have decided to not do the sale any longer, it’s important for the community to know that both of our shops are still open six days a week, and we have pop-up markets throughout the year.”

The Women’s Auxiliary would like to thank the “Garden” sponsors: Rincon Events, wines by Renegade Wines Santa Barbara, Plume Ridge Bottle Shop, and the Santa Barbara Winery; and musicians French gypsy music, Island Rhythms Steel Drum Band, the UCSB Middle Eastern Ensemble, the Shepherd’s Pie Celtic Band, the French Italian Folk band, the Kimera group, the Gamelan Sinar Surya Orchestra, plus the MAW Board for their support and generosity.

Proceeds from the event will benefit MAW’s ongoing music education programs, the access discounted performance tickets, and free tickets for ages 7 to 17.

The Women’s Auxiliary of the Music Academy is one of the largest and most successful supporting volunteer organizations in Santa Barbara. The Auxiliary’s fundraising efforts generate net proceeds exceeding $200,000 annually to help support the full-scholarship program at the academy. The scholarships enable 140 outstanding Fellows from around the world to study in Santa Barbara each summer.

411: Music in the Garden Sunday, October 21, 3 to 6 pm 
Tickets: www.musicacademy.org/gardens or call (805) 969-8787
Online auction goes live Wednesday, October 10


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