August 21, New York, NY


Frederick Weller at the 2003 Starving Artists Ball

On August 21, in the second year of a burgeoning annual event, Studio 42 and TheaterMania presented a thoroughly New York party, The Starving Artists Ball. An evening that has matured and sophisticated since the inception, the 2003 Ball was an eclectic, electric event, almost from the moment I walked through the doors of The Metropolitan Pavilion.

The program for the evening featured remarks by current Broadway babes Frederick Weller of Take Me Out and Stephanie D’Abruzzo of Avenue Q (John Tartaglia, also scheduled to speak, was unable to attend), and the unveiling of the Starving Artist Award, created and donated by Jonathan Adler. This Starving Artists Ball drew seasoned pros, Broadway newcomers and the up and coming into one space and time in pursuit of a common goal – to raise money for the Starving Artist Award Fund so that a worthy individual or organization from the emerging downtown arts scene can benefit, and thereby continue to produce art.

Both Mr. Weller and Ms. D’Abruzzo gave speeches illustrating their personal experiences and often-difficult choices as artists with economic constraints. The former mentioned agents, advice, and gut feelings, whilst the latter focused more on the budgetary woes of the two-freelance household. Each, individually, but also in concert touched on a universal truth, however; fulfilling a dream is hard, and no one with any sense expects to become rich as an artist. So what, then, does one do when one is an artist? You get the day job, take any gig that furthers the pursuit of the dream, and hope, hope, hope!

In contrast to the inaugural Ball, held in the tight space of 45 Below, the 2003 Starving Artists Ball was held in the spacious and accommodating Pavilion. Another major difference was that the formal program did not begin until the final hour of the evening, after the curtains for the speakers’ shows had gone down. The late program paired with the great space, and ample schmooze-room meant that the real features of the Ball were the drink, the dance and the people watching. It also meant that about half of the attendees chatted right through keynote speeches.

That glitch aside, from what I observed, a good time was had by all at the 2003 Starving Artists Ball. The crowd, everyone from the dorky to the divine, went all out on the dance floor. There, I got a real run for my money from press colleague and veteran mime/performer Richmond Shepard, whose signature style was a unique combination of dance, calisthenics and mime. He certainly set me spinning across the floor a few times! Like I said, a good time, and a great party.

- Kessa De Santis -

Related Reading: 2002 Ball    2003 Ball preview

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