By Ali Nicole

In October 2019, the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art hosted its first annual Fall Migration Gala and the museum is bringing it back for a second year this November. Like many events this year, the gala will utilize virtual platforms to create a unique educational and entertaining fundraising event. 

The second annual Fall Migration Gala benefitting the Ward Foundation—the non-profit organization that runs the museum—is a single night event connected other happenings in the month of November. On Nov. 6, from 7-8 p.m. the gala will be streaming on Facebook and YouTube. The hour-long presentation will feature a variety of entertainment, talent, and appearances by community leaders.

From music, to demonstrations and much more, the event will capture the spirit of the previous year’s in-person gala while uniquely show-casing what our local community has to offer in one engaging virtual presentation. Notable Maryland musician, Nate Clendenen, will be performing bluegrass, artist, Nancy Richards West, will give a demonstration, and Nancy Mitchell, Salisbury’s poet laureate, will be doing a reading. This is only a portion of the art, culture, and music this event has to offer.

As a fundraising presentation, the gala, alongside complimentary events in the month, will provide opportunity to raise funds which will support continued programming with the museum. Executive Dr. Kristin Sullivan says of upcoming programming resulting from this fundraiser, “this particular initiative is focused on broadening outreach and engagement,” as part of the organization’s strategic plan. The gala is not the only opportunity to support upcoming programming that the Ward Museum offers during November.

During the first week of November, taking place the 2nd through the 8th, an online auction will be live. Previously, the auction occurred during the gala, but movement to a virtual platform made way for it to take place over a longer span of time, providing even more opportunity to bid on the wide variety of offerings. There will be 52 items up for auction to commemorate 52 years of the Ward Foundation. Items to be bid on will include traditional carvings, art, and decoys, as well as gift-able experiences. 

The auction and gala are part of the larger Fall Giving Campaign going on until Nov. 21. During this time, donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $15,000 via the Ward Foundation Board of Directors. One of multiple ways to donate is to be a sponsor of the Fall Migration Gala. Those who sponsor the event can have their business or organization in the spotlight during the gala and included in promotional efforts. Dr. Sullivan indicates she can be contacted by email, ks*******@sa*******.edu, or phone, 410-742-4988 ext. 111, for more information on sponsorships.

Sullivan, when asked about future plans for the 2021 gala and further programming, indicated that the changes made during 2020 has opened up opportunities for more virtual components going forward. 

“This year has really caused us to think outside the box in a lot of new ways,” says Sullivan. She indicated that the addition of virtual modules this year, “will be the foundation for more engaging programs and museum exhibits in the future.” 

For this year, going virtual has made events like the Fall Migration Gala possible, but for future years it seems it could lead to even richer, more expansive experiences with the Ward Museum.