Contortionists and Jugglers Fill ROM for Circus-Inspired Prom Benefit

A2D2 aerialists performed during the circus-inspired fund-raiser. Adding rigging to the historic museum was not an option, so A2D2 brought their grounded Cirque-u-l'air rig.
A2D2 aerialists performed during the circus-inspired fund-raiser. Adding rigging to the historic museum was not an option, so A2D2 brought their grounded Cirque-u-l'air rig.
Photo: AJ Messier Photography

On Saturday, the Royal Ontario Museum hosted what the invite called “The Greatest Party on Earth,” its seventh annual Prom benefit. A fund-raiser for the Young Patrons’ Circle, the circus-inspired event drew a record 900 guests to the museum, which was filled with plenty of colourful acts, sections from sponsors, and activities for attendees. “With the theme, there was just more to do. We were able to build more activations,” said Keiko Okutsu, senior manager of special events at the ROM. The evening raised $50,000.

Organizers worked with sponsors to create activations that corresponded to the theme, and although incorporating such partners went smoothly, Okutsu had to get creative to work the museum into the event. “What we want to do this year is to really celebrate the evolution of the ROM’s world cultures and natural history collection,” Okutsu said. “It’s hard to inject those things into an event [like this.]” To fit with the design scheme, the planner created a section called "Tent of Wonders," where museum curators showed guests curious artifacts like ancient fossils and strange bugs. V.I.P.’s played a carnival-style guessing game, estimating the weight of a meteorite and the accession date of a pallasite for the chance to win a Birks necklace. “Guests really have the opportunity to interact with ROM’s objects,” Okutsu said.

Live entertainment also played a big role in the evening. “We’ve added quite a bit of live entertainment on top of the DJ, and that’s a big difference [from last year],” Okutsu said. Juggling unicyclists and ribbon dancers roamed the museum, and aerialists from A2D2 performed at around 10.30 p.m. An illusionist performed in the nearby V.I.P. lounge.

Working with Decor & More, organizers fashioned eclectic lounges with mismatched furniture, zebra-print rugs, and strings of coloured lights. “What we discussed was that when people come into the ROM, they’re going to feel like they’re walking into a one-night-only circus,” Okutsu said. Presidential Gourmet created a menu of upscale, carnival-style items to match, like salted caramel corn and homemade pretzels with Dijon mustard.

More in Toronto