By Patricia Lobaccaro

We are very excited to share with you the latest news about our upcoming Gala. The event will celebrate the International Year of Forests.  The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests conveying the theme “Forests for People”, which recognizes the central role of people in the sustainable management, development and conservation of our world’s forests. Forests provide shelter to people and habitat to biodiversity, are a source of food, medicine and clean water, and play a vital role in maintaining a stable global climate and environment.  We are proud to announce that part of the proceeds raised during the event will benefit communities located in forest areas of Brazil. More details will be announced on our next call for proposals in October. We are very grateful to fashion editor and illustrator Michael Roberts for designing the Gala invitation, highlighting the theme.

We are also happy to announce this year’s honorees Bernardo Paz, Founder of the Instituto Inhotim, Renata de Camargo Nascimento, President of the Board of Comunitas, and Luciano Huck, President-Director of Instituto Criar.  They are doing extraordinary work in Brazil, which we will highlight in more detail on our next newsletter.

Carlos Saldanha, Director of the animated movie Rio, will be honored with a special Brazilian Community Award, to recognize his vision and talent. The movie Rio is not only a magical portrait of one of Brazil’s most beautiful cities, but also raises awareness for the issue of endangered species.

Andrea Dellal, Chair of this year’s Gala, has been busy with the preparations for the event.  She was in Rio de Janeiro in June and took the opportunity to visit two organizations supported by the Foundation.

In Cidade de Deus, on the outskirts of the city, Andrea visited the Casa de Santa Ana, an organization that works to improve the quality of life of the elderly through promoting a healthy lifestyle, the training of caregivers, and increased contact among generations.   Andrea was able to meet the children and the elderly who attend the institution, and to learn up close about the work developed by Casa de Santa Ana and the community where it is located. Her visit ended with lunch at the institution, prepared with ingredients from the garden that the elderly maintain.

Andrea also had opportunity to visit the Espaço Cultural da Grota, an institution that develops cultural activities in a community in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. Under the coordination of Marcio Selles, the organization, which received initial support from the BrazilFoundation in 2005, works with over 250 students by offering pre-university classes, and art and music workshops.

Their String Orchestra has performed in Portugal, Central America, and New York, and has recorded two albums. Eighteen members of the Orchestra are currently replicating the experience in nine other communities, for the benefit of more than 300 students. During Andrea’s visit, the students performed a repertoire, followed by a capoeira presentation.

On the same week, Andrea visited this year’s honoree Bernardo Paz, founder of the Museum and the Inhotim Institute, in the state of Minas Gerais.   Besides being one of Brazil’s most important contemporary art collections exposed in the open air or in galleries located in the landscape of a forest reserve, the Inhotim Institute, is an OSCIP- Civil Society Organization of Public Interest that develops environmental research, educational programs, and an important program of inclusion and citizenship for the people of the surrounding community.   It was the first time Andrea visited Inhotim and she was taken by the beauty of the museum and the work developed by the Institute.

The Gala is already over half sold out! For information on sponsorship opportunities and tables, please contact Patricia Borges at events@brazilfoundation.org or by phone at 212244-3663.