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Dalai Lama coming to Albany

January 18, 2009

Spiritual leader of Tibet slated to speak at Times Union Center on April 19
 
By CAROL DeMARE, Staff writer
Albany Times Union
Friday, January 16, 2009
 
ALBANY — World renowned spiritual leader Dalai Lama is appearing at the Times Union Center in April, sponsored by Seagram heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman and a humanitarian foundation affiliated with the sisters.
 
Clare Bronfman and her group have leased the arena for April 19 and are in the process of booking entertainers to fill out the evening after the Dalai Lama appears.
 
Bronfman, who lives locally, declined to discuss the event Thursday, saying she was preparing a news release with details and wanted to wait until next week at the earliest.
 
However, the World Ethical Foundations Consortium Web site trumpets as its inaugural event the April appearance in Albany of the Dalai Lama. The organization not only has leased the Albany County-owned facility which seats from 15,000 to 18,000, for the one-time event, but will cover all expenses.
 
Last August, Keith Raniere, described as a scientist and philosopher, formed the World Ethical Foundations Consortium (WEFC), as a non-profit organization "dedicated to the building of a compassionate, ethical humanity." Clare and Sara Bronfman are listed as co-founders. They are the daughters of billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr.
 
"I prefer to send out a press release, " Clare Bronfman said. "I haven't done an official press release yet. I prefer to have that go out first and then answer any questions you may have."
 
As chairwoman of the event, Sara Bronfman wrote on the site:
 
"It is the greatest blessing of my life to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama as our honored guest at this event. I believe His Holiness approaches the world as a scientist: a questioning mind and ecological perspective ever deepening his already mindful, ethical and compassionate way of being. To me, His Holiness embodies our most noble human qualities; the same qualities our initiative seeks to foster through this forthcoming event and ensuing endeavors."
 
Initially, the appearance of 73-year-old Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who is head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet, was scheduled for Feb. 3. That date conflicted with the annual Home Show, so the Dalai Lama was pushed back to April.
 
Although Clare Bronfman declined to discuss the event, it is being talked about in Albany, and many people are aware of preliminary plans.
 
Following a late afternoon appearance by the Dalai Lama that Sunday, celebrities and big-name entertainers, including Dave Matthews performing without his band, will take the stage. Heads of state could also be invited, said someone familiar with the plans.
 
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings endorses the event on the WEFC Web site. "I've been approached to bring him here and I thought it would be a historic occasion for the city and the state to have the Dalai Lama visit," Jennings said Thursday.
 
Carol DeMare can be reached at 454-5431 or by e-mail at cdemare@timesunion.com.
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