Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto hosted their fourth annual Exploring the Arts (ETA) gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Monday, Sept. 27. With a turnout of over 500 guests, the event raised $1 million to support arts education in the city’s public schools.
Alec Baldwin, James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli, George Hamilton, Harvey Weinstein and Nancy Sinatra were among those who attended the gala in support of the non-profit organization that was founded by Bennett and Benedetto in 1999. Its mission is to return arts-enriched programming to American public schools. This year ETA announced a plan to serve six more schools throughout New York City, enabling the organization to reach 3,000 more students.
Longtime ETA supporters Michael Francis from the Target Corp. and Joseph Laurita from Margaritaville Apparel Group were honored at the event, which was hosted by ABC World News’ Bob Woodruff and featured performances by Bennett and Natalie Cole.
“It was a star-studded event for a wonderful cause, topped off by an incredible performance by Tony Bennett, who still has it!” said Jay Rosenthal, general manager of Rallye Acura in Long Island. Rosenthal was one of three of the world’s largest Acura dealers who attended the event along with Sean Wolfington, owner of Level5 Advertising, who said, “Tony and Susan are extraordinary people and Exploring the Arts is having a huge impact on kids’ lives.”
“I am inspired by Tony’s accomplishments as an artist and by all he gives back. There are two types of people in this world: givers and takers. I have only known Tony to be a giver,” said Kenny Hicks, general manager of Acura of Westchester, and a fan of Bennett since his teenage years.
“Tony’s loyalty to this cause and the kids is almost as magical as the songs that he performed for us. His voice, enthusiasm, and devotion are without equal,” said Brian Benstock of Paragon Acura in Queens, N.Y., home of ETA partner school, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. Students from the school gave a musical theater performance and art exhibit at the event.
Bennett and Benedetto have expressed their appreciation to all who were a part of the benefit, saying, “We wish to thank everyone who so generously supported us this year. Our fourth annual benefit was a tremendous success!”