A sold-out crowd of 175 arts supporters attended the annual Portland Ovations Presents fundraiser March 30 at O’Maine Studios on Danforth Street.

“Tonight we’re seeing some of what happens in a Portland Ovations season – music, dance, performance,” said Development Manager Jamie Barilone. “And at the same time, it’s a fundraiser to support the mission of propelling the artistic, social and educational well-being of our communities through the power of performing arts.”

As guests checked in, 50 host committee members enjoyed an Indian cooking demonstration by Cherie Scott of Mumbai to Maine. That set the stage for an eclectically local-to-international buffet featuring Luke’s Lobster, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Black Betty’s Bistro, Niyat Catering, Green Elephant, Maiz, North43 Bistro, Coffee by Design and Eighty8 Donuts.

“Tonight is emblematic of everything that Portland is and that makes Portland great – the food, the art and generous people,” said Executive and Artistic Director Aimee Petrin.

Board member Nyamuon Nguany Machar delivered a spoken word poetry call to support the arts and was followed by cellist Ben Noyes and vocalist Suzie Assam, flamenco guitarist Behzad Habibzai and dancer Lindsey Bourassa, and drag entertainer Cherry Lemonade.

These acts were a snapshot of some of what Portland Ovations presents – bringing more than 130 events, including dozens of free performances – to Maine each year. More than 10,000 students and 40,000 audience members engage with Portland Ovations programs annually, having a $4 million impact regionally.


“Portland Ovations brings world-class performers to Maine,” said John Hatcher, of sponsor The Hatcher Group of Keller Williams Realty. “They think outside the box with bringing acts that you wouldn’t think would sell out here – but they’re usually right.”

The Hatcher Group was one of 15 event sponsors, led by Coffee by Design and Youngs Furniture.

“Our foundation likes the work they do with bringing the arts to children,” said Fritz Onion of The Onion Foundation.

“And the work they do with equity and thinking about their audiences,” added Susan Onion.

While Portland Ovations is continuing to take donations online and wasn’t ready to release the total amount raised at the event, Director of Marketing and Development Casey Oakes said the benefit was “the most lucrative Portland Ovations has ever had.”

“Now more people in our community can experience the power of live performance,” he said. “We are so thankful to our vibrant, curious and creative community.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at amyparadysz@gmail.com.

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