STARS from the business and artistic worlds got together recently for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s annual Downtown Dinner, which took place within the glamorous surroundings of the Conrad New York. The grand five-star hotel, whose atrium lobby overlooks the Hudson River, provided an apt setting for celebrating one of New York’s most revered and important arts organisations.
Inside of the Conrad New York – photo credit – Hayim Heron for LMCC
Since 1973 the LMCC has worked hard to improve the quality of life for artists based in Lower Manhattan, believing in the critical role that artists play within the city. As pioneers of artist residency programmes, such as their earliest initiative World Views which brought more than 150 artists from around the world into temporarily vacant office spaces in the World Trade Center, the LMCC has committed to bringing opportunities to artists in multiple ways. Workspace is a nine-month residency that provides artists just starting out with free studio space, while the Paris Residency is a partnership between the LMCC and the Mayor’s Office of the City of Paris which enables a New York City artist to go and live and make work at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris for six months.
Artist Julie Mehretu being honoured at the LMCC Downtown Dinner 2018 – photo credit – Hayim Heron for LMCC
The Downtown Dinner has been a prominent fundraising event on the social calendar for some time, and the 2018 iteration saw more than 500 attendees, who joined forces to celebrate artist Julie Mehretu, as well as art patrons Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia. The honourees were given Liberty Awards, a tradition at the dinner, with famed British architect David Adjaye making a special appearance to present the award for Artistic Leadership to his friend Mehretu. The Ethiopian-born painter is no stranger to awards, having accepted the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award in 2015.
A performance by Pilobolus at the LMCC Downtown Dinner 2018 – photo credit Hayim Heron for LMCC
The night started with a bang, with two performances given by the acclaimed dance company Pilobolus, whose members moved enticingly in ensemble compositions that involved balancing on top of each others bodies, wowing the audience. The Silent Art Auction, which was co-hosted by leading online auction house Paddle8, featured a comprehensive range of artwork by LMCC programme alumni that guests viewed before sitting down to dinner.
Artworks in the Silent Auction at the LMCC Downtown Dinner 2018 – photo credit – Hayim Heron for LMCC
Other honourees at the event included notable LMCC alumni: Matthew Jensen, whose work focuses on explorations of landscape; the choreographer and performer Will Rawls; and the author Melissa Febos, who was presented with the LMCC’s Sarah Verdone Writing Award.
The LMCC Downtown Dinner 2018 – photo credit – Hayim Heron for LMCC
This year the LMCC will award over a million dollars in grants to fund Manhattan-based artists and arts organisations. The Downtown Dinner was a critical reminder of the cultural vibrancy that is cultivated and invested in, as well as the absolutely essential part that the LMCC continues to play.
by Derby Jones
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