Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation Announces 2016 Gala Honorees Don and the Late Merle Smithers


Pat Hebert, Don Smithers, Farrah Gandhi, Don Kerstetter and Himesh Gandhi.

Pat Hebert, Don Smithers, Farrah Gandhi, Don Kerstetter and Himesh Gandhi.

The Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation (SLCAF) and Classic Chevrolet proudly announce the 2016 Founders Ball to be held at Safari Texas on January 23rd. This year’s Founders Ball theme is Big Wigs – A Night of Entertainment and is guaranteed to be an evening of big entertainment and big fun. Inspiration Stage, SLCAF’s partner, will provide first-class entertainment for the evening with a brand new, Broadway-inspired musical performance that is sure to be the toast of the town!

This year’s gala honorees are Don and the late Merle Smithers. Don and Merle have been a part of the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation from the beginning, even before its current status as a 501c3 non-profit organization.  Both Don and Merle lived in Sugar Land for many years and contributed to the community in the ways they knew best. Don was a City Council member for the City of Sugar Land and Merle, a lover of history, found her place on the team working to preserve the Lakeview Auditorium. When asked about SLCAF and his participation, Don said, “This was really Merle’s passion that came from her interest in the history and the preservation of ‘the old things.’ I was drawn in by her enthusiasm. I couldn’t say no.”

Their fundraising efforts began with May Fest at the Lakeview Elementary School, where Don said they raised about $100. They moved on to ice cream socials that raised about $300 and then to a gala where they raised several thousand dollars to help with the refurbishment of the auditorium. Don is proud of the success of the organization. “We started small but kept working toward the goal. Now, phases one and two of the auditorium are complete and we have raised over $1,000,000 to date.”

Merle passed away a couple of years ago, but her memory lives on in her devoted husband Don, as well as in her founding contribution to the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation. Don continues to support the foundation in the community and spends his time with his children traveling the state participating in chili competitions and more often than not, placing in the top three!

Proceeds benefit the mission and goals of the SLCAF, which include continued improvements to the Sugar Land Auditorium, the city’s oldest public space, and the continued support of the arts in Sugar Land. SLCAF is currently accepting sponsorships for the event at varying levels, while tables for 10 and individual tickets are also available for purchase.

For tickets and more information, call 281-313-0752 or contact info@slcaf.org.