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8 Ideas for an Unconventional Art-Focused Benefit

Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery's 18th annual Power Ball fund-raiser asked guests to explore their inner desires through immersive art experiences.

By Amanda Scriver June 22, 2016, 7:00 AM EDT

Photo: Mauricio Calero/Candice&Alison Events Group

Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery's 18th Annual Power Ball
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For the 18th edition of its annual Power Ball fund-raiser, the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery made its more than 1,500 guests immediately aware of its theme with a giant pair of illuminated neon lips—evoking the theme “Pleasure Principle"—right as they walked up to the entrance.

The Power Ball, which raised more than $280,000 and was sponsored by Max Mara, also expanded its outdoor footprint and transformed the venue into a visual fantasy land on June 2.

“We worked with Westbury on different technologies to activate in the exterior space with live projections of guests' lips, and it was an incredibly popular feature,” said gallery director Gaëtane Verna. “The theme was the guiding pursuit of the evening, calling on guests to give way to the seeking of their desires as they take in each art­-filled space, offering a different party atmosphere and invoking an array of enticing gratifications.”

Guests were treated to a lipstick bar and selfie mirror from Bite Beauty, which reflected the lip motif from the event poster. Entertainment was provided by choral singer Abby Lee and contemporary ballet dancer Javon Jones, who performed on the Max Mara stage.

The gallery featured several themed rooms and installations including an Opium Den designed by artist Karen Tam, which included bronze lanterns, wooden cut­out screens, and various types of Chinatown decor. Other installations included the hyper­-visual glitch ­art of Lorna Mills, whose “Ungentrified” gave attendees a small glimpse into the mind of a millennial, one GIF at a time. “The art was integral to making the vision for the theme come to life, and each artist was asked to interpret pleasure in their own way,” says Verna. Many of the installations and art were full-on performances—such as an artist spraying a whipped substance into the air—that invited guests to take part.

The additional outdoor space allowed more room for food and drink. Parts & Labour had an outdoor barbecue station that offered various meats and s’mores. Companies including Toronto Distillery Company, RumChata, Patron, and Walter's Caesar set up bars that offered custom cocktails throughout the venue.

While the event also hosted its own V.I.P. hour, with a performance by Ryan McNamara and cocktails by BarChef and Parts & Labour, the planners wanted to ensure that all attendees felt they had a V.I.P. experience regardless of the ticket they had purchased.

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