On Saturday, April 8, The Crucible opened its doors for a night of fire, feasting, and fundraising. The annual Fire & Light Soirée and Art Auction is our largest benefit of the year, where we auction donated artwork from our community of master artists, makers, and fabricators. This year’s benefit was the most successful in our history, with 250 Soirée guests contributing over $250,000 in support of The Crucible’s education programs.
Dr. Frances Hellman was honored with The Crucible’s Clarion Award, a bronze bell cast by Nick DiPhillipo in our foundry. Dr. Hellman is a brilliant scientist, gifted administrator, inspiring teacher, expert downhill skier, a talented musician, a soccer player, and an advocate of the arts in all of its forms. Her generous support has given life to many other forms of artistic expression in music, fine arts, theater, and more.
During her speech, Frances praised The Crucible for helping her rediscover her creative side and how it could be blended with her love and passion for science, noting that “We all have a creative piece in our lives, and I love that The Crucible helps you discover it.”
Past honorees include Crucible Founder Michael Sturtz, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, Exploratorium Executive Director Dennis Bartels, and Christopher and Camille Bently from the Bently Foundation.
During the art auction, run by the talented Ed Gold, generous attendees bid on 20 pieces of art, donated by The Crucible’s community of master artists, makers, and fabricators, ultimately raising $83,840 dollars for The Crucible’s industrial arts education programs.
Before the Fund-a-Need portion of the auction, seventeen-year-old Reginae Hightower came onstage to discuss her experiences at The Crucible, where she has taken approximately 35 classes as a scholarship student since she was 8 years old. Reginae thanked The Crucible for giving her skills in the industrial arts, experience teaching both youth and adults, and the confidence to try things many other people might be intimidated by.
“I love being here as a young woman, taking classes and working in areas that are dominated by men…It shows me that I can do more than what the label of a ‘girl’ says,” Reginae explained.
This fall, Reginae plans to attend Wiley College and major in Biology with the hope of one day going to medical school. “Although my skills of heating metal, bending glass, chipping wood, blowing glass, and casting don’t exactly wrap around the skills of anesthesiologist, I will use them as an outlet throughout my life,” she said.
After Reginae’s speech, guests raised their paddles, donating $82,550 to support our youth programs and scholarships.
Then to the surprise of everyone, a jewelry piece made by Reginae was unveiled for bidding. Heart of Oakland is an intricately designed silver and gold necklace featuring rainbow moonstone, peridot, and garnet stones that Reginae set herself. The necklace by the Fuego Youth Program participant went for $1700, while Reginae beamed on stage.
After the auction, Michael Sturtz, founder of The Crucible, presented his original production, Viva La Resistance, a classically inspired dark comedy. Guests were amazed by the fire trapeze and dance in the spectacular grand finale.
See more photos from the event below (click to enlarge). If you were unable to attend this year’s Fire & Light Soirée, consider making a donation to help us fund youth scholarships and continue to offer our extensive catalog of adult and youth programming.