NEW YORK—The 14th annual Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) Holiday Gala held on December 16 at New York City’s renowned Cipriani 42nd Street, raised an impressive $3.6 million in support of children in Armenian villages. Among the special guests were art-world legend Tony Shafrazi, Emmy & Tony Award-winning actress Andrea Martin, designer Michael Aram, chef Geoffrey Zakarian, and actress, singer, and performer Vanessa Williams.
COAF’s Humanitarian Award was presented to Emmy Award-winning costume designer and fashion icon Patricia Field (Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada). Field, who is of Armenian and Greek heritage, has been a longtime supporter of COAF, sharing its vision of empowering people to realize their full potential, embrace originality, and achieve their individual greatness.
Vanessa Williams delivered a special performance of her Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning song “Colors of the Wind” and paid tribute to Patricia Field, with whom she worked with on the set of the TV series Ugly Betty.
The evening also featured performances from two of Armenia’s finest young musicians, 14-year-old saxophonist Aleksandr Avetisyan and 9-year-old vocalist Ani Margaryan, who traveled from Armenia for this special event. Gala attendees also heard an inspiring speech from 16-year-old Nareh Galstyan, from the village of Lernagog, who spoke eloquently about how COAF has transformed her life and provided opportunities that would not have existed otherwise.
World-renowned auctioneer and collector Simon de Pury conducted a live auction of uniquely curated art to support COAF’s mission. The auction included works donated by such notable artists as Ed Ruscha, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, Kenny Scharf, and Patrick Demarchelier—as well as a rare piece by renowned Armenian-American author and playwright William Saroyan.
One hundred percent of the $3.6 million raised at the Gala will go directly toward COAF’s education, health, and socio-economic programs in the villages of Armenia, with a focus on its novel SMART initiative. SMART is a unique initiative designed to bring digital technology education, programs in music and art, sustainable agriculture training and more to rural Armenian villages. The construction of COAF’s first SMART Center in the Lori region of Armenia has been completed and will be operational in January 2018. Close to 150,000 individuals from the city of Vanadzor and 48 surrounding rural communities will benefit from the establishment of the SMART Center.