PENN QUARTER --
Far from a group of unusual suspects, the crowd that filled Sidney Harman Hall
on Monday night represented an exceptional mix of leaders from Washington's arts, business, entertainment, and political communities.
A sold out benefit concert, both hosted by and starring two-time Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey
, served as the explanation behind such an auspicious turnout, with all proceeds from the event earmarked for the programs of The Kevin Spacey Foundation
Conceived as a unique, one-night-only performance for concertgoers, the current star of the hit Netflix
series House of Cards
delivered an entertaining evening of stories and song, including covers of many popular classics such as Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" and Lionel Richie's "All Night Long".
Spacey, of course, is no stranger to D.C. and can often be spotted making rounds on the Hill (or sometimes playfully helping young couples with their engagement
), as a passionate advocate for the arts.
His eponymous foundation supports emerging artists in drama, dance, music, and film by funding scholarships and grants, offering educational opportunities, and providing access to a well respected roster of mentors. Despite it being less than four years old, the organization has already supported more than 600 young artists and 83 companies, including many in the Washington and Baltimore areas.
The actor (recently ranked by Forbes
as the world's 74th "most powerful celebrity") was inspired by his mentor, the late Jack Lemmon
, to leverage his own success to "send the elevator back down" for rising fellow creative types. In so doing, Spacey hopes to transform the current push for STEM-based programs (science, technology, engineering, math) into a broader STEAM initiative (science, technology, engineering, arts
And helping him pay it forward last night was a virtual who's who of Washington notables, including Congressman Kevin McCarthy
and Congressman Steny Hoyer
(the event's honorary co-chairs), British Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Peter Westmacott
and his wife Lady Westmacot
and Kathleen Biden
, as well as executives from AT&T, Netflix, Lockheed Martin, and Comcast NBCUniversal.
VIP supporters donated $2,500 per person for the opportunity to mix and mingle with Spacey immediately following the concert, during an elegant cocktail reception and supper held on the outside terrace of Penn Quarter's Poste
Unlike traditional galas, the after party was relaxed and inviting, with intimate seating areas encouraging conversation and camaraderie long into the night among the diverse group of assembled guests.
Frank Underwood would have probably hated it.