Copper River Nouveau expands as it goes online

A yellow-cedar halibut hook crafted by Mike Webber will be among the higher-ticket items auctioned off at the Copper River Nouveau. Photo courtesy of Signe Fritsch

Unlike many other annual events, Prince William Sound Science Center’s fundraiser may see increased public participation in 2020. The July 12-18 Copper River Nouveau fundraiser will be the first carried out online, foregoing a traditional banquet and silent auction for livestreamed entertainment and an eBay-style electronic auction.

“Cordova, as you know, is a remote place that not a lot of people can get to,” said Katrina Hoffman, president and CEO of Prince William Sound Science Center. “That and other factors make this an exclusive event to attend. What I’m really excited about and grateful for this year is that, by holding a fundraiser online, literally anyone, anywhere in the world, can watch or make a donation… I think it’ll encourage participation from people over a much broader geographic distribution.”

Online auctions will be broken into two events: a July 12-18 “silent” auction and a July 18 live auction for around 10 higher-ticket items, such as an 18th-century map valued at $1,850 and a landscape painting valued at $2,400.

Participants in the July 18 live auction are recommended to use two devices: one to view the event livestream on YouTube and another to bid on items, Hoffman said.

Speakers attending online will include longtime PWSSC supporter Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who will speak on the key attributes for building coronavirus-resilient communities; and former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig. China Forbes, lead singer of the jazz ensemble Pink Martini, will also deliver a livestreamed musical performance. Pink Martini’s work has often been chosen as background music for Copper River Nouveau events, Hoffman said.

Sponsors for the event include ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Alaska and Cascadia Cross-Border Law, as well as local organizations such as the Eyak Corporation. Online registrations in advance of the event have been vigorous, raising organizers’ hopes that the event will be well attended.

“Even though we’re not able to have a five-course dinner party this year, you don’t have to buy a ticket to participate,” Hoffman said. “This is a really good cause, and an institution that’s been very important, not just for Cordova and Prince William Sound, but for Alaska and the world. What happens in the ecosystem in our backyard is meaningful globally.”