National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) welcomed more than 800 guests and raised over $1.7 million at the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, the Backyard Ball performance and gala, presented by Harry Winston, Inc. and supported by VIP Host Partner UBS Financial Services, Inc., as part of National YoungArts Week. The event honored jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard (1980 YoungArts Winner in Classical Music) and contemporary artist Teresita Fernández with the Arison Alumni Award and Arison Award, respectively, for their vital contributions and commitment to the arts. The evening also celebrated the achievements of the 2020 YoungArts Winners, the nation’s most accomplished young artists in the literary, visual and performing arts.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Jorge M. Pérez Award to New York-based sculptor and installation artist Ilana Harris-Babou (2009 YoungArts Winner in Visual Arts) and Miami-based sculptor and painter Mateo Nava (2013 YoungArts Winner in Visual Arts & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts). The Jorge M. Pérez Award, funded by The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, provides a $25,000 unrestricted award to YoungArts Visual Arts alumni who have demonstrated artistic excellence and shown promise of future achievement.
Proceeds from the event support YoungArts’ programs in Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C., which offer aspiring artists opportunities to work with leading artists in their fields; present their work at major venues; collaborate across disciplines; be considered for residencies and fellowships; and apply for additional financial support. Backyard Ball guests applauded the 2020 YoungArts Winners and celebrated the culmination of the organization’s signature program, National YoungArts Week, which took place from January 5 through January 12.
The Backyard Ball was hosted by honorary chairs Sandra and Tony Tamer, and co-chairs Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhelm, Jay Franke and David Herro, and Oxana and Steven Marks. In addition to the chairs, the Backyard Ball gala leaders committee included Jeffrey Davis and Michael Miller, Asha and Jamie Elias, Lisa Heiden-Koffler and Adam Koffler, Carolyn and Alex Hurst, Amy and Richard Kohan, Diane and Alan Lieberman, Darlene and Jorge M. Pérez, Remi and Oti Roberts, Laurinda Spear and Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Ellie and Bruce Taub, Ana and Sean Wolfington and Maurice Zarmati.
In attendance were newly-appointed YoungArts board members Derrick Adams, Doug Blush (1984 YoungArts Winner in Film), Natalie Diggins, Glenda Pedroso and Jim Shreve, as well as many renowned artists and alumni like Zoë Buckman, Claire Chase (1996 YoungArts Winner in Classical Music & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Khirma Eliazov, Dr. Ron McCurdy, Dr. Joan Morgan, José Parlá, Vernon Scott, Michael Trusnovec (1992 YoungArts Winner in Dance & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts) and Betty Wright.