Charity shelves opulent London hedge fund gala dinner

Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:02am EDT
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By Laurence Fletcher

LONDON (Reuters) - A lavish gala dinner that was a highlight of the London hedge fund industry's social calendar and counted royalty among its guests has been quietly shelved.

The ARK Gala Dinner, which started in 2002, cost as much as 10,000 pounds ($15,500) a ticket, with entertainment over the years ranging from singers Elton John and Prince to a giant mechanical elephant.

The dinner will not take place this year as the charity it supports looks at other fundraising events, a spokeswoman for ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) said.

She said that the charity instead hosted a champagne reception in January attended by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

"We think we should have a variety of means of communicating (with donors)," she said. "More and more of the donors are coming to us interested in particular programs ... At the dinner, conversations (about projects) are not as detailed."

The spokeswoman said no decision had been taken about whether the event would take place in the future.

The amount raised by the dinner - which funds projects ranging from training health workers in rural Zimbabwe to running British schools - has almost halved since its 2007 peak, when 1,200 guests helped to raise 26.6 million pounds.

Last year's dinner raised 14.5 million pounds, with the charity citing "an extraordinary show of generosity at any time, but especially so given the challenges of fundraising in this climate."   Continued...

Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge speaks with Elizabeth Murdoch at the 10th annual ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) gala dinner at Kensington Palace in London June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Arthur Edwards/pool