Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hunkering Down in the Hamptons

From the New York Times

All along the East End of Long Island, a string of beach towns that represent a sort of New York version of the French Riviera, fund-raisers and their topiarists are suffering through a limp summer, with the rising price of oil and falling value of the Dow combining to cast a pall over the party-hopping set

“We’ve only sold about five $30,000 tables,” she said. “Two or three years ago, we would sell 10. Some people who bought two tables in the past are buying one table this year. Some people have called to ask me about discount rates, which was not something we saw in the past. And we’re seeing individual couples who bought two tickets are not coming at all.”
But economizing hardly appeared to be a guiding principle as nearly two dozen workers assembled steel girders for a 10,000-square-foot free-span tent; expensive and pole-free, these tents are to outdoor parties what Gunite is to swimming pools and Sub-Zero is to refrigeration.

This isn't just a Hamptons phenomenon with Russell Simmon's Art For Life event. The expenses for the The Jewel of Orange County event were scaled back this year also with no tent and cold boxed dinners.

As quoted in the article Ms. Murray explained, however, that there is pressure in the philanthropic world, despite the economic downturn, to always outdo past performances. People want to see some razzle-dazzle Especially when they are paying $500 or more per person.

Still, I don't think that the super rich Hamptonites are any less likely to donate because of the drop in the Dow or the because of an economic downturn. I just think that there are simply too many charity events being given and people have developed a case of fundraiser fatigue. Some fund-raisers say that it may not help either that the number of charity galas seems to keep increasing each year.

Debbie Bancroft, a socialite in Southampton, said that although she planned to go to as many benefits this year as in the past, many of her friends have been dialing back. “It’s hard enough to get the Wall Street husbands to come to these things,” she said. “And that’s when Wall Street is doing well.”

How many of these gala events does anyone really want to go to during the summer especially when they are described as ...the Hamptons fund-raising circuit, long a richly appointed, celebrity-studded and well-intended archipelago of self-congratulation...
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