Autumn in San Francisco means numerous things, including children returning to school and a long wait until the next round of vacations and holidays. But the city also takes this time to get dressed up and head out on the town. It’s time for galas benefiting causes big and small, and this year the city takes the time to celebrate a number of people exiting center stage after making their marks in the town.
From the operatic accomplishments of David Gockley to the museum leadership of Linda Harrison, from art education to the ballet, high-end programs are being orchestrated to honor the notables who have helped weave together this city’s rich arts and cultural fabric and assist new generations in getting started.
You can get started by putting on some fine threads and joining in the spirit of philanthropy.
Sausalito Art Festival Annual Gala (Sept. 4)
The Studio 63 Gala (Boogie the Night Away) at the waterfront Marinship Park begins with a cocktail reception and stroll through the grounds to preview the work of the 250-plus artists who will be presenting at the festival. A sit-down dinner catered by McCalls follows, and guests will also enjoy dancing to the sounds of D.J. Chris Clouse. The gala benefits the Sausalito Art Festival Foundation’s educational program, Artists Teaching Art, which connects Marin County students with working artists who inspire and stimulate the students’ creativity (415-332-3555, sausalitoartfestival.org).
San Francisco Opera Ball (Sept.11)
The opera’s 93rd season celebrates its general director David Gockley, who will retire at the end of the season. This elegant black-tie affair begins with a cocktail reception and dinner followed by the opening-night performance of Verdi’s Luisa Miller. An after-party includes hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, music, and dancing. Proceeds benefit the opera’s education programs, which serve over 60,000 students in more than 230 Northern California schools (415-565-3204, sfopera.com).
San Francisco Symphony Opening Night Gala (Sept. 24)
The symphony’s annual black-tie gala benefits its award-winning education and community programs serving more than 75,000 Bay Area students. The evening includes a preparty, a concert led by Michael Tilson Thomas featuring Grammy Award-winning stage and screen star Sir Patrick Stewart and renowned baritone Nathan Gunn, and an after-party with entertainment, dancing, cocktails, and treats from favorite San Francisco restaurants (415-503-5500, sfsymphony.com).
Bay Area Arthritis Auxiliary Fashion Show (Oct. 30)
Fashions from St. John, creators of the iconic, elegant knitwear, will grace the runway with their latest collection for this yearly benefit for the Bay Area Arthritis Auxiliary. The event begins with a champagne reception and continues with a luncheon, live auction and, of course, a runway show featuring St. John’s hand-embellished, alluring, and refined clothing (415-356-5484, arthritis.org/northern-california).
Yerba Buena Alliance 24th Ann-iversary Gala (Oct. 15)
The Yerba Buena Alliance seeks to create a sense of community and partnership in the Yerba Buena neighborhood while celebrating its richness and vibrancy and promoting it as a destination, and this gala benefits their programs. This year, the gala honors Linda Harrison, executive director of the Museum of the African Diaspora, and the Mexican Museum for their contributions to the Yerba Buena neighborhood, the art and culture center of downtown San Francisco. The gala will be held at the City View at the Metreon for a Taste of Yerba Buena from the top neighborhood restaurants (415-541-0312, yerbabuena.org).
San Francisco Performances 36th Season Gala (Oct. 16)
San Francisco Performances celebrates the start of its fall season with its annual gala benefiting its education programs, which increase arts participation and expose new audiences to great performers. Held in the Julia Morgan Ballroom, the black-tie-optional gala will include cocktails, dinner, and a jazz concert starring Luciana Souza and Edward Simon (415-677-0326, sfperformances.org).
This Old Bag: The Power of the Purse (Oct. 23)
This gala brings together designers, retailers, fashionistas, and celebrities at the stately Bently Reserve to help low-income women with cancer, benefiting the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on an extensive array of all things purses: handbags, manbags, and clutches in the silent auction, and a live auction will feature the most coveted bags paired with travel packages and other experiences (415-558-6999, bcef.org).
San Francisco Fall Antiques Show Preview Gala (Oct. 21)
Attracting more than 2,000 arts patrons and a highlight of the season, this gala offers a preview of this year’s show as well as live music, caviar and vodka bars, and sumptuous dinner buffets and dessert stations. Recognized as the oldest and most prestigious continuously operating international art and antiques show on the West Coast, and one of the top five in the world, the show’s gala benefits Enterprise for High School Students (415-989-9019, sffas.org).
Lamplighters 50th Annual Champagne Gala & Auction (Nov. 15)
The fall “fun-raiser,” as the company refers to it, benefits the Lamplighters Music Theatre. Held this year at the Herbst Theatre, the evening features an original satire set mostly to the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan and will spoof the ever-popular Star Wars franchise in Return of the Deadeye: The Farce Awakens. The gala also includes a silent auction as well as a fund-a-need live auction, and a champagne reception with the costumed performers — guests are also encouraged to come in costume (415-227-4797, lamplighters.org).
Off the Ground! Bandaloop Inaugural Gala (Nov. 19)
The pioneer vertical dance group, which has staged performances on such unlikely venues as billboards, skyscrapers, and cliffs, will celebrate its first gala at 54 Mint. In addition to a Bandaloop performance, the evening includes a screening of the film Crossing, an hors d’oeuvres-and-wine reception, and more (415-421-5667, bandaloop.org).
San Francisco Ballet Opening Night Gala (Jan. 21)
Held at San Francisco City Hall and the historic War Memorial Opera House, this black-tie event begins with a cocktail reception and dinner at City Hall, continues with a Prosecco Promenade in the Opera House lobby and an opening-night ballet performance, and culminates with an after-party at City Hall to benefit the ballet’s annual fund (415-865-2000, sfballet.org/events).