Celebrating 45 Years of ArtsConnection: The Art is the Heart of Life Festival

ArtsConnection's 2024 Benefit Raises Nearly $1 Million for NYC Arts Education
Celebrating 45 Years of ArtsConnection: The Art is the Heart of Life Festival
Brian Hatton

By Michael Travin and Hillary Latos

On June 5th, the IAC Building in Chelsea, New York City, was the epicenter of creativity and celebration as ArtsConnection hosted its 2024 Benefit, "Art is the Heart of Life Festival." The event was a resounding success, drawing nearly 200 guests and raising close to $1 million to support arts education for NYC public school students.

Brian Hatton
Brian Hatton

The event’s atmosphere was nothing short of magical. The IAC Building was transformed into a vibrant homage to New York City, complete with a live Statue of Liberty model, a captivating graffiti wall, and energetic dance performances by NY Chinese Cultural Chinese Dancers. Guests were treated to live portraits and an array of food stations that highlighted international cuisines represented from all five boroughs, such as Italian, Asian, Mexican, Latin, and Jewish delis, along with pop up carts from popular eateries like Waffle and Dinges and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. The event’s stunning design was orchestrated by celebrated event designer and ArtsConnection Board Member, David Monn.

Brian Hatton
David Monn
David MonnBrian Hatton

Honoring the Champions of Arts

The Benefit celebrated the contributions of several remarkable individuals and organizations:

  • Tiffany Barrett (Teaching Artist) and Pascale Pradel (Principal, P.S. 38K), who received the ArtsConnection 2024 Janklow Award.

  • Peter Cincotti, Jazz Pianist & Singer-Songwriter, honored as Arts Innovator and presented by Debra Harounian Peltz, Board President.

  • Basil Twist, Puppeteer and MacArthur Fellow, recognized as an Arts Innovator and presented by Rachel Watts, Executive Director.

  • Sony Corporation of America, honored with a special award presented by Debra Harounian Peltz and accepted by Braxton Midyette.

Each honoree and host Sandra Bookman from WABC received a unique artwork created by an ArtsConnection student, underscoring the profound impact of arts education.

Brian Hatton
Brian Hatton

Reflecting on 45 Years of Innovation

Executive Director Rachel Watts reflected on ArtsConnection’s journey, saying, "During the fiscal crisis in New York, our teachers were being taken out of the schools. That's when ArtsConnection stepped in. We were one of the first organizations to work in the schools to bring artists into the classrooms." This initiative has grown into a legacy of innovation and leadership in arts education.

Watts highlighted the importance of supporting young artists, stating, "A lot of times, New York City public school students' parents believe their children should pursue careers as lawyers, doctors, or finance professionals. But this is the cultural capital of the world, and there are numerous jobs in lighting design, graphic design, and on Broadway that students should have access to." This mission is central to ArtsConnection's efforts to make arts a viable and respected career path.

Watts also remarked, "This is a celebration of New York City arts and culture and a celebration of the young people who make it so exciting." The event served as a testament to the vibrant and transformative power of arts education in the lives of NYC’s youth.

Peter Cincotti
Peter CincottiBrian Hatton
Brian Hatton

The Path Forward

As ArtsConnection celebrates its 45th anniversary, the organization is more committed than ever to providing NYC public school students with opportunities to thrive in the arts. The 2024 Benefit was a powerful reminder of the positive impact that arts education can have on individuals and communities.

"For more than four decades, we have been the innovators of the field of arts education in New York City," Watts noted. "When we started, we were the education department for Ailey and Ballet Hispanico. They then began establishing their own education departments."

For those interested in supporting ArtsConnection and its mission, more information can be found at ArtsConnection.org.

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