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Museum offers gala discount to city schools
Students, parents, teachers and staff can purchase tickets to see Bill Cosby, Ben Vereen at Washington fundraiser for 'thank-you' price of $25.

Date published: 6/1/2006


Supporters of the U.S. National Slavery Museum will pay up to $300 a ticket to attend a Washington gala this weekend featuring performances by Bill Cosby and Ben Vereen.

But students, parents, teachers and staff members associated with the Fredericksburg public school system can enjoy the "We Are One People" event for much less. The museum is offering what it calls a "thank-you" price of $25 per ticket for those connected with the city schools.

The school system has been very supportive of the museum, said Marci Catlett, assistant superintendent for instruction and personnel. About three weeks ago, museum officials offered them the discounted tickets for the show at the Warner Theatre in recognition of that support, she said.

"It was just such a wonderful offer," she said. "We're just very grateful."

The performance on Saturday begins at 7:30 p.m. and will include a comedy routine by Cosby and a tribute to the late Sammy Davis Jr. by Vereen. Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, the former Virginia governor who founded the museum and heads its board, will speak.

Regular tickets range between $100 and $200, but those who purchase the priciest $300 passes can also attend a private reception with the stars from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., and a meet-and-greet soiree from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Officials were unable to provide numbers on ticket sales. The gala was originally scheduled for New York City's Lincoln Center in February, but officials said they delayed it to seek a larger facility after receiving "overwhelming requests" to attend.

The Allen Room at the Lincoln Center has a maximum capacity of 540. The Warner Theater can seat up to 1,800.

The event is the first major fundraiser for the museum, which has reported raising about half of what it needs--$50 million--in cash and pledges over the last few years.

The 290,000-square-foot facility is expected to open on the banks of the Rappahannock River in Celebrate Virginia by 2008, but museum officials have promised some kind of "soft opening" next year.

Plans for the facility, designed by Chen Chung Pei, call for a full-size replica of a slave ship, 10 permanent galleries, a 450-seat amphitheater, two libraries, a lecture hall, several classrooms and an outdoor garden featuring sculptures, commemorative walls, tobacco and cotton crops.

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