It’s a house party
Surrounded by art and furnishings crafted from building supplies, a sparkling array of Hollywood characters will celebrate with actor Brad Pitt on Saturday to benefit his post-Katrina “Make It Right” housing program in the Lower Ninth Ward.
Host of the Make it Right gala at the Sugar Mill will be legendary comedian Chris Rock. Additional entertainment will come courtesy of comedian Jim Gaffigan, rockers Kings of Leon, and surely some special guests from Pitt’s pocket.
Culinary delights will be invented and prepared by award-winning chefs Susan Spicer, Donald Link, Chris Wilson and Rhonda Ruckman.
Artist and event designer David Stark has beautified the space with giant, environmentally friendly art installations, the materials from which will later be reused to build Make It Right homes.
“This was Stark’s idea,” said Make It Right executive director Tom Darden. “The entire gala was designed to encompass our mission, meaning everything from the art to the tables are all made from building supplies and are being shipped to the jobsite the day after the gala.”
A table for 10 at the gala can still be had for $25,000 — individual $1,000 tickets sold out months ago, though the organization put more on sale this week, said Taylor Royle, a spokeswoman for Make It Right.
The international contest wherein Groupon sold 5,000 raffle tickets to the gala for $10 apiece is also closed, though a winner has not been announced, she said.
The remaining individual $2,500 VIP tickets get partygoers into the gala’s reception, the dinner and the star-studded after-party featuring young song-and-dance man Bruno Mars, who recently rocked halftime at 2014’s Superbowl and will return to New Orleans June 7 for a sold-out engagement at the Smoothie King Center.
The Sugar Mill, 1021 Convention Center Blvd., boasts a 22,000-square-foot main floor plus a 15,000-square-foot landscaped courtyard which, together, can hold 10,000 guests.
Founded by Pitt in 2007, Make It Right has so far built 100 homes of the 150 that organizers hope to erect for Ninth Ward residents and other people in need, Royle said.
The houses were first offered to Ninth Ward residents who were having trouble returning to their neighborhood. They also were offered to local teachers, firefighters and police officers outside the Ninth Ward.
All Make It Right projects are LEED Platinum certified and Cradle to Cradle inspired, meaning they’re designed to produce more energy than they consume and have a positive impact on the environment.
In 2012, Pitt, along with Saints quarterback Drew Brees, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, rapper Snoop Dogg, singer Kanye West, comic Aziz Ansari and a gaggle of their celebrity cohorts threw a bash at the Hyatt Regency on Canal Street that attracted 1,200 guests and raised roughly $4 million for the program.
The angular, solar-powered houses sell for $150,000 for a single to $200,000 for a double, designed by architects including the famous Frank Gehry.
The houses cost more than that to build, but Make It Right provides subsidies up to $75,000. The organization also offers lots of help in walking buyers through the process of obtaining an affordable mortgage.
The price that Make It Right paid to build the houses included research into new green building techniques — information that was then shared with other local builders and housing nonprofits, according to the program’s website.
Saturday’s gala will also highlight other ongoing Make It Right projects, such as a program for disabled veterans in New Jersey, another for underserved families in Missouri and a project focusing on Native American peoples on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.