Chashama Honors Gural and Cahan at Nov. 15 Benefit

News   Chashama Honors Gural and Cahan at Nov. 15 Benefit Chashama, the nonprofit arts group that may be one of the oddest and inventive theatrical outfits in town, will hold a benefit on Nov. 15 at 6:30 PM at Osteria Stella at 135 West 50th Street.

The evening of entertainment—which will feature performances by the edgy likes of Julie Atlas Muz, The Red Bastard and the Happy Hour Clowns—will benefit a program that goes by the stodgy name of Accessing Real Estate for the Arts (A.R.E.A.). The initiative was designed to "create temporary art performance space using underutilized New York City real estate donated to chashama on a temporary basis."

The two honorees of the evening are Jeffrey Gural, president of Newmark, who has twice provided Chashama artists with free space; and Cora Cahan, president of The New 42nd Street.

Chashama artistic director, Anita Durst, knows a little something about real estate. She is the eccentric scion of the powerful New York City land-owning Durst clan, which possesses several parcels around and about Times Square. Until recently, family head Douglas Durst allowed his iconoclastic daughter to operate Chashama out of a warren of theatre spaces on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues—all in the shadow of the towering Conde Nast buiding. The forces of commerce finally forced Chashama to move in March 2004.

The Durst Organization is planning to erect an office town on the site where five Chashama theatres (at 111, 113, 121, 125 and 135 E. 42nd Street)—as well as a host of small, and somewhat seedy, businesses—sat. (The same construction project forced Urinetown to cut short its run at 43rd Street's Henry Miller Theatre.)

Individual tickets for the fundraiser are $150 and $250 (the latter price includes five raffle tickets). Tables are $15,000 (Event Sponsor, table of eight), $10,000 (Visionaries, table of 8) and $5,000 (Developers, table of six). A silent auction will contain works donated by chashama artists in residence. Raffle prizes include vacation packages, tickets to many New York City cultural institutions, and gift certificates to New York City restaurants.

To date, A.R.E.A. has received contributions of more than 90,000 square feet in 12 properties from the New York City community. Contributors, besides Mr. Gural, include: Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner; Peter Duncan, George Comfort and Sons; David Brause, Brause Realty; and, of course, Douglas Durst.

Further information can be obtained at www.chashama.org.