New York City, October 23, 2018 ~ The World Monuments Fund (WMF) Hadrian Gala honored Prince Amyn Aga Khan of Afghanistan and Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler of Cuba at the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center.
The Hadrian Gala raised $1.1 million dollars to support the restoration of monuments around the world.
31st Annual Hadrian Gala
WMF’s Hadrian Gala honors champions of conservation for their passionate commitment and extraordinary contributions to preserving and protecting the world’s shared cultural heritage.
The evening opened with news that the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) has provided a $600,000 challenge grant to create a 2020 Watch Catalyst Fund. For the first time, this will allow WMF to support interventions at all 25 sites beginning the day the 2020 Watch is announced in October 2019.
Vasili Tsamis, Group Chief Operating Officer of the SNF, was on hand to make the exclusive announcement to the gala’s 300 attendees.
“We are proud to partner with World Monuments Fund on the 2020 Watch program, to support conservation efforts that empower community stakeholders around their heritage sites and to help ensure a sustainable future,” said Tsamis. “Today, more than ever, it is essential to reach out to each other, to respect, to appreciate, to celebrate and to preserve our world’s cultural achievements.”
WMF successfully met the first half of the match thanks to a $300,000 grant from The Ford Foundation and is actively fundraising the balance.
The Gala’s namesake Hadrian, was the Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was Hispano-Roman. It is believed that he was born in a town near present day Santiponce, Spain.
Prince Amyn Aga Khan
Prince Amyn has served as a trustee of World Monuments Fund since 1997. He accepted his award with these remarks.
“Culture is a means to encourage civil society. It gives people not just job opportunities, but confidence in their future because they understand their own past. When you restore a monument, the past becomes part of the present. Together we are rediscovering a world heritage which binds us.”
Dr. Leal Spengler
Dr. Leal Spengler is the person most responsible for the restoration of Old Havana, Cuba. He began his work as a young man after the revolution. Seeing the incredible restoration of Cartagena, Colombia made him wonder what could be done with old Havana.
“Old Havana was not destroyed, but it was abandoned. When you touch it, it revives like a butterfly,” said Dr. Leal Spengler. He has led the restoration of over 2,000 structures. That is 40% of Old Havana. “You can only travel to the future through the past. When you put your heart into it, stones can rise up. That makes people proud of their own things. Only love restores, and the true restoration is Cuba.”
Dr. Leal Spengler received a standing ovation.
I asked Dr. Leal Spengler in Spanish what he and Cuba needs now. He answered, “We need to continue working hard to finish the job that we started so many years ago.”
“We need to continue working hard to finish the job that we started so many years ago.” ~ Dr. Leal Spengler
WMF is Accepting Nominations for its 2020 Watch List
WMF is already in action for 2018 and 2019. The WMF 2020 Watch List will be announced soon. Nominations are open.
Renowned abstract artist Tony Bechara spoke about his own birthplace, “San Juan, Puerto Rico where I am from, also has an old part of the city. It is beautiful. Now is the time after the hurricane to pay attention to it.
The other part of Puerto Rico that is fantastic, though people are forgetting about it, is the coffee region. The old small coffee plantations are so beautiful. I am hoping that my fellow Puerto Ricans and the WMF may take an interest.”
Nominate a world monument to the WMF 2020 Watch List
Brook and Roger Berlind
Linn and Robert Feidelson
Lorna and Edwin Goodman
Fernanda M. Kellogg
Lorna Goodman (Chair of the Board of Trustees, World Monuments Fund)
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia
Joan Hardy Clark
Johnnie Moore Hawkins
Hélène Marie Shafran
Heather Henricks Lenkin
Dan Brodsky & Estrellita Brodsky
Michael Stewart & Melissa Stewart
Collin de Rham
Peter Kimmelman & Elbrun Kimmelman