How much does it cost to throw the star-studded Grand Gala?


by Adrianna Hopkins

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 11:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 23 at 12:46 AM

Should organizers continue to throw lavish Derby parties?

The Grand Gala is one of the hottest Derby parties, attracting high profile stars. Michael Jordan and Doctor J danced to Earth Wind and Fire's performance in 2008.

"I'm enjoying myself... Now we're party hopping." said American Idol contestant Taylor Hicks.

But after eight years, the Grand Gala won't be a stop on the party hop, at least for now.

The executive planning committee of the party says "because of the economy, the devastation around the world and the layoffs, we have decided not to have The Grand Gala."

Based on the tax records for the 828 Foundation, the organizers of the Gala, it costs well over $1 million.

In 2008, organizers spent over $460,000 on hotel rooms and food, $442,000 for Derby tickets, and over $200,000 for entertainment.

The Gala is a fundraiser for local youth charities.

"I'm all about helping the youth. And as corny as it sounds, they are our future. We have to invest in them," said actress Tischina Arnold.

And the organization reported to the IRS in 2007, giving $40,000 in charitable contributions.

At this point, actress Gabrielle Union, singer Tyrese Gibson and TV personality Star Jones won't be at a public party but the organizers say they'll have a private event with business guests Thursday and Friday night of Derby week.

Those local charities are not listed on the tax forms but we contacted a few of the charities who the 828 foundation says they support and we haven't heard back from them yet.

The Grand Gala is the second event to be canceled for this year.  Many of the organizers who were involved in the Mint Jubilee, which announced it would not take place in 2010, are now organizing a new event called the Julep Ball, which will also benefit the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.