Five years ago, Quay Whitlock went from planning literary events at The New York Times to producing events for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where she is now the director of special events and development initiatives. Whitlock works on an array of projects, including the organization's annual opening night gala, the spring benefit at the Apollo Theater, and donor-related dinners.
Caterer: ”Match Catering & Event Styles makes the most delicious mini ice-cream-cone treats that guests always scoop up the minute their feet leave the dance floor. At our spring gala, which Match has been catering for several years, the company creates simple yet significant touches that continue to reinvent the party. They will team up with the other vendors to envision the event’s color scheme or what plants will blend best with the tablecloths and lighting design. The staff—Michele Pokowicz and Joan Steinberg—are such professionals and make my job easier. I trust them immensely.”
Flowers: “For our many intimate events throughout the year—during December we might produce three donor dinners a week—I use Flowers of the World. They consistently come up with beautiful arrangements that are unique while being sensitive to the fact that we are a nonprofit. A gorgeous orchid display, for instance, we can reuse for the next event. Whether there are deep purple orchids in black square vases or low and lush looks on tables, their florals make a lasting impression.”
Lighting & Design: “Al Crawford and his independent lighting design firm, Arc3 Design, handle the lighting for our spring gala. They’ve also done events for Jazz at Lincoln Center. At the Apollo gala last year, he projected images of student dancers posing and leaping on the walls and ceiling of the tents. Al doesn’t just throw lights on a venue, he imagines the most beautiful and creative ways to channel the energy from the evening’s performance and make that the fun focal point of the event. When we have our sponsored lounge in addition to the main tent area, Al creates an entirely different look and feel as a thank you for the donor’s generous contributions.”
Design: “I adore David Stark for his whimsical creativity. He always devises a fun, exciting concept that guests look forward to each year. Even now, I can’t wait to see what he dreams up for our 50th anniversary event this coming December.”
Design: ”David Watkins is an independent producer and designer. I call him one of New York’s best kept secrets. David is a really talented original, which at this point in this city is hard to find. I’ve been a fan of his work for many years. He planned Sean “P. Diddy” Combs' 30th birthday at Cipriani Wall Street. He is very detail-oriented, and can work with any size budget, which is important these days. I will always be grateful for his decision to use ballroom chairs at a big event when I didn’t think it would be possible; he made it happen.”