Blog: Doing Art Together Benefit
Thirty-six floors into the New York City sky, the Mandarin Oriental’s west side Mandarin Ballroom provides picturesque floor to ceiling window side views down toward the bustling street below. Monday evening, the posh space was decked out with a live jazz band, house DJ, some special celebrity guests, and attendees dressed to the nines in celebration of Doing Art Together’s 28th annual benefit. The event would begin as a quiet night for fundraising- about a third of the nonprofit’s annual proceeds would be raised on this night- but would turn into an all out raucous dance party by its conclusion.
Doing Art Together was formed more than thirty years ago at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, serving as a platform to provide hands-on training and arts based assistance to city children. The organization’s interactive workshops seek to inspire and encourage participating kids, allowing them to enrich their creative outlets through art and academic advocacy. And over the past three decades, DAT has delivered more than one million man hours of service by teachers to upwards of 75,000 children and their families in more than 250 different schools and programs. Attending guests on Monday night were initially treated to a handful of these students posing for pictures in front of their hand crafted artwork, which was on display just outside the Ballroom’s entrance. Watching the jubilant kids proudly gazing up toward their displayed works was reason enough to justify the organization’s existence as they strive to instill confidence and reinforce the significance of self-expression in each child whose lives they touch.
Recognizing the value of their cause, celebrities- like the striking hostess of VH1’s ‘Big Morning Buzz’ Carrie Keagan- would walk the red carpet and emcee the evening, followed by singer-songwriter-producer Rico Love and Dr George Williams, who would be honored during the evening program. The evening’s main attraction however, hip-hop mogul turned creative director turned fashion designer/painter, and husband of Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, was forced to pull out of the event at the last minute, despite being honored himself. Fortunately however, he was able to Skype into the event, giving the well attended room a hearty laugh during his acceptance speech.
The live music, open bar, and delicious buffet more than made up for the artist’s absence, as guests paraded around the center table, making bids on a variety of different silent auction items for purchase. In a refreshing change of pace, at no point were attendees pressured to place bids or make any additional contributions during the event itself, allowing guests to really kick back and enjoy the festivities of the affair. And as the program reached its conclusion, the house DJ managed to transform the previously classy event into an all out club- equipped with folks both young and middle aged, dancing around vigorously in their work attire- which certainly made for an entertaining final hour.
Tickets to the Doing Art Together Annual Benefit certainly weren’t cheap, but the incredible turnout and the sheer passion displayed by the attending philanthropic guests only reinforces the magnitude of DAT’s vision. The organization puts a very real face on the artistic freedoms that some of us likely overlook and take for granted. But while the event may have concluded, there are still ways to get involved yourself. Find out more at doingarttogether.org and show your support to ensure that we can all ‘do art together’ for another thirty plus years.
- Jane Van Arsdale