The best Austin parties before the big fall festivals begin

We’re only days away from the Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park, if you can believe that. Other big fall fests are not far behind.

These are some of the Austin parties and other events I hope to squeeze into my schedule in the coming week.

Taylor Mac will appear at UT McCullough Theatre. Contributed

Sept. 26: Charles Umlauf Home & Studio Tour. Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.

Don’t miss this rare chance to see the sculptor’s hilltop home and studio.

Sept. 27-28: Texas Tribune Festival. Various Locations.

Top political figures and others speak on national and global matters.

Sept. 27-28: Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged).” UT McCullough Theatre.

A mash-up of music, history that covers 240 years of American social history.

Sept. 28: Fête and Fêt*ish for Ballet Austin. JW Marriott Hotel.

One of the city’s prettiest galas transforms into a dance party when the clock strikes a certain hour. 

Sept. 28: Celebration of Life Luncheon for Seton Breast Cancer Center. Fairmount Hotel.

The city’s women join in solidarity for this fashionable but serious luncheon.

Sept. 29: Mike Quinn Awards Luncheon from the Headliners Foundation. Headliners Club.

Journalists are lionized at one of the city’s oldest private clubs.

Sept. 29: Booker T. Washington Day. Wooldridge Square Park.

Speech by Booker T. Washington restaged amid historical interpretations of the square.

Sept. 29-30: Austin Shakespeare presents staged reading of “Antony and Cleopatra.” Austin Ventures Studio.

Franchelle S. Dorn and Robert Ramirez in the title roles are the big draws for this very limited run.

A big deal gets bigger: Austin’s Art of the Gala adds producer and expands networking reach

The Art of the Gala, already one of Austin’s most effective charitable convocations, just doubled its scope and stature.

Monica Maldonado Williams at a previous Art of the Gala event. Contributed

Founded by Monica Maldonado Williams, publisher of nonprofit tracker Giving City, this annual training day for fundraisers combines speeches, panels and breakout sessions devoted to how to best throw a charity event. It has been a must-go for development officers and volunteer gala captains. (The American-Statesman publishes a weekly column about the area’s nonprofit community through a partnership with Giving City Austin.)

RELATED: Monica Maldonado Williams cracks the charity code

Jennifer Horn Stevens at a previous Art of the Gala session. Contributed

This year for the first time, Williams will partner with Jennifer Horn Stevens, CEO of the  JHL Company, producer of the giant Mack, Jack and McConaughey party and other signature events. Stevens has added activities for top donors and nonprofit executives, turning it into a premium networking event for best practices in the field.

RELATED: Jennifer Stevens: The Making of an Un-Lobbyist

The all-day Art of the Gala lands at the JW Marriott on Oct. 23.

Attendees will be able to choose from these topics:

• Sponsorships

• Day-of Fundraising

• Event Planning & Execution

• Working With Vendors

• Making The Event Magical

• Expanding the Audience

• Donor Retention

• Non-Event Revenue

“The Art of the Gala is a terrific resource for nonprofits,” says Phyllis Snodgrass, CEO of Austin Habitat for Humanity. “Adding JHL to the mix takes this event to the next level. JHL brings creativity, practical donor recruitment and retention strategies and a focus on integrating major events into overall strategic plans and marketing goals of an organization.”

Tickets are available here