Gala Goes Virtual: Beyoncé, Solange, Jay-Z, Megan Thee Stallion and More to Appear at WACO Theater Center's Virtual Celebration

WACO founders and Co-Artistic Directors Richard Lawson and Tina Knowles Lawson
WACO founders and Co-Artistic Directors Richard Lawson and Tina Knowles Lawson

Did you miss the stylish spectacle of the Wearable Art Gala this year? Are you quietly a fan of “Ms. Tina’s Corny Jokes”? Want to see how much Blue Ivy’s art allowance increased this year? If you answered yes to any of the above, you’ll want to tune into the WACO Theater Center’s Virtual Celebration and art auction this Saturday, September 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, which “will celebrate various forms of art that uplift the community, empower entrepreneurship, and sow back into local programs,” according to a release sent to The Root.


Sponsored by Shea Moisture, the event will be hosted by WACO (Where Art Can Occur) founders and Co-Artistic Directors Richard Lawson and Tina Knowles Lawson as the annual fundraiser for their state-of-the-art cultural center in Los Angeles. The release promises the evening “will be filled with surprises, including highlights from the Wearable Art Gala and a special celebrity version of ‘Ms. Tina’s Corny Jokes.’”

On that note, a bevy of celebrity guests have been confirmed, including: Honorary Chairpersons Beyoncé Knowles Carter, Solange Knowles, Bianca Lawson, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams; Jay-Z; Samuel L. Jackson; Octavia Spencer; Tiffany Haddish; Angela Bassett; Lynn Whitfield; Issa Rae; Yara Shahidi; Megan Thee Stallion; Vanessa Bell Calloway; Lena Waithe; Cynthia Erivo; and Lil Rel Howery with music provided by DJ Millie. The 2020 Virtual Celebration Host Committee also includes notables like Lela Rochon Fuqua and Holly Robinson-Peete, while actor Glynn Turman is among WACO’s Board of Directors.

“WACO was created to stand at the intersection of Black culture and art. For the past three years, we have worked to create a safe space for students to be nourished, grow, and learn,” said Tina Knowles Lawson. “This year, our gathering will feel and look different, but the mission unequivocally remains the same,” adds Richard Lawson. “We are looking forward to continuing the tradition of celebrating art and Black culture to create meaningful change for our children.”

The Virtual Celebration is a free and open-to-the-public benefit intended to raise funds for its programs and families impacted by COVID-19; it will stream on WACO’s Facebook and YouTube channels this Saturday. The event’s virtual art auction can be previewed by texting WACO2020 to 243-725; additionally, an online art gallery featuring works from Kehinde Wiley, Lauren Halsey, Barnette, Bethany Collins, Genevieve Gagnaird, Eduardo Sarbia, and Radcliffe Bailey will be available for viewing until Sunday, September 27.


More details, per the release:

WACO’s Virtual Celebration will include an online virtual silent auction. The preview began August 25th, and features fine art works by artists such as Robert Pruitt, ‘The Pretty Artist’ Tiffanie Anderson, Chaz Guest, Ron Bass, Samuel Levi Jones, Harry Adams,Tyler Clark, Quiana Parks, Toni Scott, Gherdai Hassell, Charis Kelley, A. Nichel, Erica Puckett and designer Lorraine Schwartz among others.

The auction will raise money for WACO Theater Center programs which consist of enrichment and leadership initiatives that empower inner-city students ages 12-14, exposing children to all aspects of art and life that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience. Money raised will also help families affected by COVID-19.


And in case you’re seriously missing WACO’s usual annual fundraising event, the Wearable Art Gala, never fear: The Lawsons plan for the Gala will return to the Barker Hangar next year on Saturday, June 5, 2021.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?