See Inside This Risqué Traveling Circus-Theme Benefit

The 20th anniversary of Toronto's Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery's Power Ball fund-raiser was highlighted by an adult fun-land design and immersive culinary stations.

By Amanda Scriver June 13, 2018, 7:15 AM EDT

Outside of the venue, a bar set up in a truck served whiskey—all in keeping with the theme of a traveling circus sideshow.

Photo: GP Images/Getty Images for Max Mara

Power Ball XX: Carousal
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Power Ball, the annual fund-raiser for the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, never fails to be a memorable gala in Toronto. For the event’s 20th anniversary edition on May 31, the gallery’s events team decided to celebrate milestone by building on the ideas of naughtiness, titillating discoveries, and mischievous provocation from previous iterations of the event—in the form of an adult fun-land.

Power Ball XX: Carousal (say it out loud) was presented by Max Mara and offered gala attendees everything from reimagined—and somewhat N.S.F.W.— takes on traditional fair rides and stalls to an onsite tattoo parlor and a chance to shoot fruit with a crossbow.

“Since it was the 20th milestone for Power Ball, we really wanted to create a birthday bash worthy of the Power Ball name,”  said Gaëtane Verna, director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery. “Our goal was to create a nostalgic experience with a new twist and have guests explore a carnival like they’ve never experienced before.” Verna added that they wanted to blur the lines between art, entertainment, and gastronomy.

For the gala’s V.I.P. pre-party, the team invited London-based multi-sensory artist duo Bompas & Parr to create an artistic and taste-centric approach to a classic carnival—stations included a room with alcoholic mist, glow in the dark jello shots, and bubblegum-infused mist. 

To evoke the traveling circus design aesthetic, Power Plant partnered with creative design agency Superfish for the first time. One of its creations was a looping video at the venue entrance, which featured characters resembling a traveling sideshow on a black and white checkered background. The characters were also featured as cutouts that attendees could take photos with, and actors from the cutouts and videos walked around the event and interacted with guests.

The Power Plant also commissioned American artist Jennifer Steinkamp and Canadian artists including Dominique Pétrin, Ana Rewakowicz, and Anitra Hamilton to create art installations in the gallery spaces.

“We really wanted guests to leave with a feeling of familiarity and to enjoy a carnival-esque party like they had never experienced before, but at the same time leave with a feeling of having contributed to a cause,” said Verna.

The event raised $360,000 to support the gallery's educational and exhibition initiatives and sold 1,300 tickets—both increases from last year, according to Verna.

Here's a look at the gala's risqué take on a traveling circus. 

Launch Slide Show

Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed quotes from Power Plant. 

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