image description

News & Events

Sitar Arts Center’s Create Change Gala at Planet Word

The event raised over $355,000 for arts education programming and honored the legacy of community leader Nancy M. “Bitsey” Folger

(Washington, DC) October 26, 2022 — Sitar Arts Center hosted its 2022 Create Change Benefit Gala & Auction on Thursday, October 20th, 2022 at Planet Word. The annual event celebrated DC’s children, teens, and young adults who Create Change within themselves and their communities through the arts. Produced by Be Dismond Sweet, Sitar’s Create Change Gala welcomed 262 guests and raised more than $357,500 for arts education programming, with $124,000 funds raised between the gala’s Live and Silent Auctions—the highest single-day fundraising total in the organization’s gala history.

Guests enjoyed a lively cocktail reception and a welcome from student dancers with The Washington Ballet at Sitar, followed by a 3-course dinner by Occasions Caterers and an entertainment program emceed by Sitar alumni Herb Scott and Joel Perez Avila. During the event, Sitar awarded the annual Rhonda Buckley Award for Outstanding Leadership in Community Arts to Sitar student Dakota Dannett. Sitar also awarded the 10th Annual Peter Fox Award to Sitar student and aspiring musician, Sarah Garcia. Following the awards, Sitar Arts Center honored the tremendous legacy of community leader, visionary philanthropist, and Sitar founding angel, Nancy M. “Bitsey” Folger, who has been at the heart of Sitar since the beginning.

Notable guests included Iyanla Vanzant, Julie Kent, Lonnie Graham, Maureen Corrigan, Nick Folger and Sofia Llompart, Tom Sietsema and Ed Lichorat, Eve Auchincloss Lilley, Mary Kathleen Ernst and Edmund Spivack, Melissa and Jason K. Burnett, Bill and Dorothy McSweeny, and Gian Carlo Perez from The Washington Ballet.

Create Change Gala Co-Chairs
Charles DeSantis and David McDermott

Sitar’s 2022 Create Change Gala Committee
Greg Albright and Wes Combs
Quanda Allen
Rhonda Buckley-Bishop
Samantha Dean and Robert Mileff
David DeSantis and Todd Malan
Carroll Dey
Mario Garcia Durham and Craig Horness
Ellen Fern and Brett O’Brien
Jill Herscot
Grace Hong and David Olsen
Sara and Chris Lange
Im and Peter Lynde
Kristan McMahon
Jaya Saxena and Viyas Sundaram
Vivek Srivastava
Chris Stacey and Sam Stebbins
Chris Wingert

Leaders of Change Artistic Circle
Maureen Corrigan, Book Critic, NPR
Lonnie Graham, Fine Arts Photographer
Julie Kent, Artistic Director, The Washington Ballet
Iyanla Vanzant, Inspirational Speaker, Lawyer, Spiritual Teacher, Author

Gold Sponsors
Jean-Marie and Raul Fernandez
Tom Nichols and Dan Chadburn
Be Dismond Sweet ~ BeSweetLife
TTR Sotheby’s


About Sitar Arts Center

Founded in 2000, Sitar Arts Center is a multidisciplinary arts center providing affordable, high-quality education and workforce development in the visual, performing, and digital arts. Sitar Arts Center engages DC youth, from early childhood to young adulthood, in building a creative community of learning and belonging that removes financial and cultural barriers to arts education and career training. Sitar envisions a city in which all young people experience transformative moments through quality, accessible arts education and career training, and are supported on their path to discover their creativity and achieve their full potential. For more information, visit