The Dayton Art Institute’s fancy, festive and fun Art Ball returns in-person Saturday, June 11 for the first time since 2019.
The glamorous black-tie event, one of the museum’s largest annual fundraisers, promises to be an entertaining evening of merriment and mingling that showcases the beauty and history of the venue to the hilt.
Art Ball begins at 7 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by an elegant, seated dinner in the museum galleries. Following dinner, guests enjoy live music, dancing, open bars, specialty martinis, liqueurs and much more. An extra-cost VIP Cocktail Hour will offer early entry to Art Ball for a private reception at 6:30 p.m., with high-end wines and hors d’oeuvres.
“There’s a real feeling of excitement,” said Elaine Gounaris, DAI development director. “Art Ball is always a nice moment for the museum. It’s so good to see people in the galleries and to simply celebrate the DAI. But to be able to celebrate 65 years of this party is extra special. We want people to dress up, show up, to enjoy the art, and enjoy the atmosphere. The food will also be incredible.”
“There’s a definite buzz and excitement this year,” added Mike Griest, DAI sponsorship and special events manager. “I think it’s been too long since people have been really dressed up to go out and show off their finest and have a good time. I’m sure there are some questions about whether or not this is the right time, but this is the time. The response we’ve received is really telling us that people are ready to get out and have a good time.”
According to organizers, 650 people placed reservations, which closed May 27. However, anyone still interested in attending can be placed on a wait list if any spots become available. Guests should also expect a few breaks from the norm this year in terms of party planning.
“After dinner we are not doing a seated dessert,” Gounaris said. “We are doing a dessert station party room featuring jazz and more after-dinner drinks. We’re also having DJ KimL, who has done a lot of events with the RubiGirls including the DAI Oktoberfest Preview Party. DJ KimL is a fan favorite, a real treat, and so awesome to work with.”
‘Art that is available to all’
Holiday Ball, as the swanky evening was called when it was first held at the art museum on Dec. 7, 1957, was originally organized by the Junior League of Dayton. The proceeds from the dinner dance were marked for the permanent purchasing funds of the museum.
Sixty-five years later, Art Ball remains an extension of the DAI’s community-driven commitment to ensuring the museum belongs to the people, particularly through inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.
“Now in its 65th year, Art Ball is a Dayton tradition and a vital part of the museum fulfilling its mission to create meaningful experiences with art that is available to all,” said Michael Roediger, DAI Director and CEO. “I am honored to work with our dynamic DAI Associate Board who has been nimble in navigating the pandemic to present a spectacular evening filled with friends, reuniting over delicious food and drink, dancing and enjoying beautiful art in one of Dayton’s most magnificent structures. The entire museum family is delighted to welcome back our corporate and individual members, sponsors and other museum friends that continue to support the museum’s mission in our community.”
Continuing the long-standing tradition of being themed around an artwork from the DAI collection, the DAI Associate Board has selected a painting from 1957, Ray Parker’s “Summer Afternoon,” as the inspiration for this year’s theme, “Summer Celebration.” The DAI has also released an “Object of the Month” video about “Summer Afternoon” which is available to view on its website.
“Through a voting process, the entire Associate Board took part in selecting Parker’s painting as the featured artwork,” Roediger said. “The title and warm colors are a perfect complement to our ‘Summer Celebration’ theme. It’s also fitting it was painted the same year that first Art Ball began.”
“Our whole goal this year, including the selection of the artwork and theme, is to celebrate 1957, but make sure it also has everything that’s great about 2022,” Griest added. “We’re offering a nod to vintage, but a whole lot of amazing, modern things mixed in as well. We hope people really enjoy the work we’ve done to make this comeback special.”
‘A major love letter to Dayton’
Reflecting on the Art Ball’s enduring history and popularity, Gounaris credits the museum itself as the biggest selling point.
“More than the chance to get dressed up, have a great night out, be with friends and meet people, the Dayton Art Institute is one of the most outstanding places Dayton has to offer,” she said. “There are so many wonderful places in downtown Dayton, so many great things going on, but the DAI has been tried and true for more than 100 years. We have wonderful support of the community. We are so grateful for our members, donors and people who come to visit the galleries. But the Art Ball is a major love letter to Dayton. It’s a chance to celebrate history, art and community spirit.”
Griest, who spent four years planning previous incarnations as a member of the DAI Associate Board, considers tradition a significant aspect.
“We have families that attend with their adult kids and couples who have come together as groups for 20 years,” he said. “When you’ve experienced Art Ball, you want to go out and invite others to experience it as well. This event has survived on recruitment. It’s an elegant evening that’s a ton of fun. It sells itself.”
Art Ball also includes a Grand Draw Raffle as part of its fundraising efforts. Only 600 tickets will be sold for $100 each, with the chance to win prize packages valued at $1,000–$4,000, including exquisite jewelry items, as well as spa, restaurant, gym, adventure and travel prize packages. Ticket holders need not be present at Art Ball to win. Those purchasing three or more raffle tickets get one free Oktoberfest Preview Party ticket. Raffle tickets will still be available through noon on June 10 and can be purchased online or by calling the museum.
“The Art Ball funds go back into the general operational budget and are not tagged for one specific project,” Griest explained. “But the funds help with the day-to-day expenses. Between the three signature events we do – Art Ball, Oktoberfest and Bourbon & Bubbles – we bring in 20 to 25 percent of the annual operating budget of the museum just between sponsorship and attendance. It’s a huge chunk allowing us to continue to do all the amazing things we do here. People might know us because they’ve attended one of our signature events, but those events help us do all the other things for the community that happens in between. We want to keep growing and thriving – it’s not just about surviving.”
Credit: E.L. Hubbard
Credit: E.L. Hubbard
“The time has come to celebrate,” Gounaris added. “COVID didn’t just shut down the Dayton Art Institute – it shut down the world. But at long last, we are hosting the 65th anniversary of what we believe is the best black-tie party in town.”
The Dayton Art Institute is located at 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton. Due to setup for Art Ball, the museum will be closed June 8-12 and will reopen June 15.
For more information, visit daytonartinstitute.org or call 937-223-4278.
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