National YoungArts Foundation’s Annual Backyard Ball Honors Artists

Grace Weber

The National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) hosted its annual fundraiser in Miami, the Backyard Ball performance and gala, to help support the artistic development of the nation’s most promising artists. In addition to recognizing the talent of this year’s 757 YoungArts winners, the event honored playwright, Academy Award winner and YoungArts master teacher Tarell Alvin McCraney (1999 Winner in Theater) with the 2018 Arison Alumni Award for his vital contributions and commitment to the arts. The event also featured the announcement of Sarah Arison as newly appointed board chair; a new Lin Arison Excellence in Writing Award announced by YoungArts President & CEO Carolina Garcia Jayaram; and Torrance Hall’s acceptance of the 2017 Max Mara Young Visionary Award presented by Maria Giulia Maramotti, Max Mara’s Director of Retail for North America and Global Brand Ambassador.

The Backyard Ball, presented for the fourth consecutive year by Italian luxury brand Max Mara, raised more than $1.5M in support of YoungArts’ programs. Hosted by gala chairs Dr. Kira and Mr. Neil Flanzraich, along with the Gala Leaders Committee members Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhelm, Darlene and Jorge Perez, Ellie and Bruce Taub, Judy and Charles Temel, and Maurice Zarmati, the celebratory evening welcomed more than 700 guests, including renowned artists, alumni, community leaders and philanthropists.

Notable attendees included Klaus Biesenbach, Todd Bishop, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Jeffrey Davis and Michael Miller, Diana and Joseph DiMenna, Annette Felder, Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Marvin Ross Friedman and Adrienne Bon Haes, Matt Haggman and Danet Linares, Alex Hurst, Alan and Diane Lieberman, George Lindemann, Bob Lynch, Ariel Penzer and Jeremy Milgroom, Oti and Remi Roberts, Victoria Rogers, Ellen Salpeter, Dennis and Debra Scholl, and artists Derrick Adams, Naomi Fisher, and Jose Parla.

Sarah Arison, Louis Aguirre, Carolina Garcia Jayaram

The evening was emceed by television anchor Louis Aguirre and featured an elegant black-tie reception and seated dinner. A highlight of the evening was a series of inspiring YoungArts alumni performances with artistic direction by Grammy Award winner Grace Weber (2006 Winner in Voice & U.S Presidential Scholar in the Arts) featuring Thirdstory (Ben Lusher, 2010 Winner in Voice; Richard Saunders, 2008 Winner in Voice & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts; Elliott Skinner, 2013 Winner in Voice), Nadia Alexander (2012 Winner in Theater & U.S Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Amanda Krische (2012 Winner in Dance & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Jasmine “Jaz” Sinclair Sabino (2012 Winner in Theater), Jose “BOY BOI” Tena (2012 Winner in Dance), Elliot Wuu (2017 Winner in Classical Music), and an all-star alumni jazz band led by four-time Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Gerald Clayton (2002 Winner in Jazz & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts) with Braxton Cook (2010 Winner in Jazz), Julius Rodriguez (2014 Winner in Jazz), Zack Ostroff (2011 Winner in Jazz & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts) and Benny Benack (2009 Winner in Jazz).

The evening concluded with the Backyard Bash on the YoungArts Plaza with dancing and dessert to music by the legendary DJ Arthur Baker.

Additional support for the Backyard Ball Performance and Gala was provided by EventStar Structures, Bacardi, Miami Herald, and MIAMI Magazine.

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