Movie stars and local and state legislators were among the one thousand or so people who attended Heal the Bay’s annual Bring Back The Beach Gala at Santa Monica Airport’s Barkar Hangar on may 28.
The festivities according to Heal the Bay’s Director of Communications, Matthew King, netted over $500,000 for the organization’s programs. This was about $100,000 less than last year’s gala but King stressed this was still pretty good considering the current state of the local and national economy. The funds were raised from ticket sales, a silent auction, and a live auction.
King explained that Heal the Bay’s current fiscal year runs from September 2008 through September 2009. The funds raised at the gala will be used to help with the organization’s expenses for this fiscal year. He also noted that Heal the Bay has a high rating as a non-profit because “more than 80 percent of the funds it raises go directly to programs” while the other 20 percent go towards overhead and fundraising.
Three environmental leaders were honored at the gala. Heal the Bay Board member Mark Attanasio was honored for using his financial background to help the organization raise an endowment in support of the efforts of staff scientists to devise solutions that maintain and enhance the ecosystem around Santa Monica Bay. Attanasio is a Group Managing Director of the TCW Group, Inc. and a member of its Board of Directors. He is also the Chairman of the Board and Principal Owner of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club.
Also honored was photographer and UCLA Professor of Photography Catherine Opie. The gala program stated that Opie “holds the belief that images can bring about social change” so she “uses her art to bring dignity to both America’s social subcultures and America’s precious landscapes.” She photographed surfer landscapes and portrait series in Malibu in 2003, and ocean horizons in Alaska in 2008. Her Seasons of the (Santa Monica) Bay in 2009 were photographed to benefit Heal the Bay exclusively.
Lastly, Ocean in Google Earth was honored for expanding Google Earth and Maps online applications to include an ocean feature. This new feature allows users to explore ocean landscapes throughout the world by going to the ocean bottom, to view photos from the BBC or the National Geographic and other partners, to explore shipwrecks like the Titanic in 3D, to find the best surf and dive spots, and to learn more about underwater habitats.
The evening also included a tribute to Dorothy Green, the founding president of Heal the Bay, who passed away in 2008.