Aspen Film planting a nonprofit flag with New Year’s Eve party | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Film planting a nonprofit flag with New Year’s Eve party

Aspen Film is trying to stake a claim on the biggest party night of the year for the mountain town.

As it celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Academy Screenings film series, the nonprofit is staging a New Year's Eve fundraiser at the St. Regis Resort. The casino-themed party will include blackjack, roulette, craps and poker, in which patrons gamble with chips bought in donations supporting Aspen Film's year-round programming.

"No nonprofit is doing a big New Year's bash, so we though this would be a great time to do it," said Aspen Film executive director John Thew.

For years, Aspen Film's biggest annual fundraiser was an Oscar-watching party in February. They scrapped it last winter for Aspen Film's first casino night event, during President's Day weekend at the Hotel Jerome, which Thew and event producer Jay Israel called a success.

They then began eyeing New Year's Eve, which finds a Champagne-popping Aspen at its most decadent — with parties in just about every venue, restaurant and hotel ballroom in town. They were undaunted by the competition of countless New Year's events.

"I don't view it as a challenge, I see it as an opportunity," said Israel, who also is an Aspen Film board member.

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No local nonprofits have laid claim to New Year's Eve to stage a benefit (the St. Regis, last New Year's Eve, hosted a celebrity-studded fundraiser for the New York-based Haiti relief organization Artists for Peace and Justice). Israel noted that the ticket price for the casino-themed party — ranging from $350 to $1,250 — is on the lower end of New Year's dinners and events in Aspen and, unlike many ticketed downtown events it includes hors d'oeuvres, dinner, open bar, a live band and goes through midnight.

Israel also said they've done away with often tedious aspects of fundraising galas — no long sit-down dinner, no paddle-raise or live auction — in favor of a more freewheeling party atmosphere, with food stations, a small silent auction, live music from New York's Double Down and gaming tables open until 1 a.m.

If all goes well, Aspen Film hopes to make it an annual tradition.

"We're using the 25th anniversary of Academy Screenings as a launchpad, and hopefully we'll make it a yearly thing," Israel said.

Aspen Film's Academy Screenings include 23 awards season contenders, opening Wednesday with "La La Land" and running through Jan. 1.

atravers@aspentimes.com

If You Go …

What: Aspen Film’s Casino Royale New Year’s Eve Bash

Where: St. Regis Resort

When: Dec. 31, 2016, 9 p.m. through 1 a.m.

How much: $350-$1,250

Tickets: http://www.aspenfilm.org; 970-306-0662

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