RICHMOND, AUG. 23 -- The state government budget crunch is starting to hit home, even at the highest levels of Virginia society.
Patricia W. Kluge, the Charlottesville philanthropist and rumored social companion of Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, announced today that she is canceling a large fund-raiser she had planned for the Virginia Festival of American Film because the gala would be inappropriate "in light of the state of fiscal affairs in Virginia, and the governor's call to put 'necessities before niceties.' "
Instead of throwing a 300-person bash at her Albemarle Farms estate, as she has done in recent years, Kluge said in a news release that she will simply contribute $250,000 directly to the film festival.
The festival is an annual, highly publicized affair with which Kluge and her estranged husband, billionaire John W. Kluge, have been closely involved. The event will be hosted by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville over four days beginning Oct. 24; this year's theme is "Music in the Movies."
The film festival this year was expected to receive about a $150,000 subsidy from the state, according to Kluge spokeswoman Candace Campbell, but that figure is expected to be significantly reduced when Wilder wields his budget ax in September in a campaign to slash $1.4 billion from the state budget.
Campbell said she didn't know whether Kluge had discussed her plans with the governor, and Wilder spokeswoman Laura Dillard said she didn't know either. But, Dillard said, Wilder "respects everyone's independent decisions to effect cost savings."
Kluge's personal check is sure to be a good bit more valuable to the film festival than the money it could have hoped to take in at the party. Last year's gala, which attracted dozens of prominent people from the world of film and politics, raised about $46,000, according to Kluge's news release.
Campbell said that Kluge was sorry to cancel her party, and has hope that brighter fiscal times next year will allow her to resume the annual gala. For now, Kluge said in her statement, "it is much more important for the festival, which brings millions of dollars of film industry investment to the state, to remain in the black."