Ikea Chairs Become Works of Art to Benefit Orlando Cultural Organizations

By Mitra Sorrells August 31, 2011, 12:32 PM EDT

Photo: Courtesy of PME Photography

Red Chair Affair
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Organizers of the Red Chair Affair estimate they raised more than $12,000 from auctioning 75 Ikea chairs at the event Saturday night at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. Groups such as Cirque du Soleil, the Orlando Ballet, and the Garden Theatre transformed the small wooden “Leksvik” chairs into works of art to raise money for the Red Chair Project, the marketing arm for more than 350 arts and cultural organizations in a seven-county region of central Florida.
“We want people to participate in the arts, and a chair is a symbol of that. Our theme is get out of your seat and into one of ours,” said Autumn Ames, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida. “The chairs are our own spin on it. It allows people to buy these little creations as a reminder, and this is a way to get the whole arts community together to produce something fun.”

This is the fourth year in a row that Ikea has donated chairs for the fund-raiser, which signals the start of the cultural season in central Florida. “We think that a rich cultural life is important to young people, and this is a fun way to use our product in the community,” said Gabriella Eitingon, Ikea Orlando’s community relations manager.  

The event began with a V.I.P. reception backstage for about 200 people. Guests dined on food from White Wolf Cafe and Talk of the Town Restaurant Group eateries, including Charley's Steak House, FishBones, and MoonFish. In addition to the chairs, the silent auction included a variety of experiential packages, such as walk-on roles in local productions, backstage tours, and the chance to conduct an orchestra.  

Following the reception, attendees joined more than 1,200 general admission guests in the main theater for performances from 14 groups such as the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, SAK Comedy Lab, and Emotions Dance. Organizers estimate the event raised about $30,000, which will be used to promote member organizations during the coming year.

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