First Coast Cultural Center’s Beaches gala set for April 28

Keynote speaker and honorary chair is Aundra Wallace, president of JAXUSA Partnership


This year’s First Coast Cultural Center Beaches — A Celebration of the Arts annual fundraising event will be held 6-8 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, 110 Championship Way in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The gala event will feature keynote speaker and honorary chair Aundra Wallace, president of JAXUSA Partnership. Cost per person is $250 with tables of eight available for $2,575. 

During the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser of the year, First Coast Cultural Center will recognize individuals, businesses and organizations who have made a significant impact on the arts in Northeast Florida.

The fun and formal affair will include gourmet, Beaches-inspired chef specialties, a carving station, silent auction, live music, live art, an awards presentation and performances.

For more information, contact Kimberly Sheridan at 904-280-0614 ext. 1205 or email To purchase tickets and for sponsorships, go to

Highlights of the evening will also include the prestigious Irene Lazzara — Beaches, A Celebration of the Arts Award, which will be presented to an individual, business or organization dedicated to ensuring that arts and culture are ingrained into the everyday life in the Beaches community.

Additional awards include the Emerging Artist Award to be bestowed on an emerging artist of any age who has displayed great accomplishment with their fine art or craft medium; The Ron and Hilah Autrey Arts Education and Advocacy Award to be given to an artist or arts advocate with a track record of advancing the arts and, or educating the public, business leaders, elected officials and students on the fundamental value of arts in the Beaches community.

Additionally, the Community Impact Award (Member’s Choice) will be awarded to an individual, business or organization that has demonstrated a tangible and measurable development of the arts and culture in the Beaches community; and The Art of Giving Award will be presented to a business, large or small, or an individual committed to funding and/or sustaining arts and culture programs within the Beaches community.

New this year is the #Gulanism Award, which will be given to a young individual who exhibits positivity and is known for consistently sharing affirmations personally and professionally. The term #Gulanism is derived from Dr. Arun Gulani of Gulani Vision Institute.

The event will feature live music with violinist Alyssa Albert and cellist Sabrina Krisberg. Live artists will include ceramic artist Catherine Lynn, charcoal artist Claire Weaver and oil painter Katherine Weaver. Candice Sirak, national board-certified music therapist and Sound Connections Music Therapy manager will host an interactive booth featuring music therapy.

Honors will be presented to individuals, businesses and organizations within the coastal counties of Nassau, Duval and St. Johns, between Amelia Island and St. Augustine Beach while recognizing honorees who go above and beyond to enhance the arts and culture in the region.

Award winners will be chosen by a committee of judges who are unaffiliated with the Cultural Center, with the exception of the Community Impact Award, which will be a center Member’s Choice Award.

According to Donna Guzzo, president and CEO of First Coast Cultural Center, the evening features award recipients who have dedicated their expertise, philanthropy and services to the nonprofit and in the community throughout the year.

“We are honored to have as our keynote speaker and honorary chair Aundra Wallace, president of JAXUSA Partnership,” said Guzzo. JAXUSA Partnership is the private, nonprofit division of JAX Chamber, Jacksonville’s regional economic development initiative overseeing the efforts of the seven counties of Northeast Florida.

Event funds will support the nonprofit through ticket sales, sponsorships, program and signage opportunities and leaders in arts and culture.

“We are pleased to recognize statewide and local leaders, professionals, artists and volunteers who generously share their time and knowledge to help the center, and our First Coast community residents, visitors and students throughout our community,” said Guzzo.

Sponsors of this year’s event include Lazzara Family Foundation, Ron and Hilah Autrey, Gulani Vision Institute, Tom Bush Family Dealership, Publix Super Markets Charities and bestbet St. Augustine.

First Coast Cultural Center’s new building is formally opened with arts, culture, community activities and a gift shop at 6000B Sawgrass Village Circle in Ponte Vedra Beach. The two-story, 6,000-square-foot space was funded in part by local donors and an additional support campaign is currently in place with the Beaches gala and numerous events.

The center is a place to create, understand and experience the arts. The organization accomplishes its goals through exhibitions of local, regional and national artists in a variety of media through educational and enlivening events, quality arts classes, lectures and workshops.

Key programs include Sound Connections Music Therapy for children with disabilities, which is offered free of charge to students at St. Johns County schools, including Title I schools, which provide additional resources to economically disadvantaged students.

Also, Kick StART afterschool arts enrichment programs and services are available and include Title 1 schools with the help of grant funding. Summer camps are available with online registration along with additional seasonal children’s camps, and adult programs.

For further information, go to