Derrick Adams, Laurie Simmons, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Misty Copeland, and More Join YoungArts For Its Annual New York Gala

Michael McElroy at the 2024 YoungArts New York Gala. All images courtesy of YoungArts.

The Metropolitan Museum's Temple of Dendur has never looked more spectacular than it did for this week's YoungArts Gala. The Egyptian temple relics regularly serve as a one-of-a-kind backdrop to chamber operas, poetry readings, and, of course, parties. Monday evening, the sandstone structures were bathed in hues of purple, green, and blue light as guests poured into the New York landmark. 

YoungArts, which has been providing funding, mentorship, and professional development opportunities for youth artists since 1981, raised nearly $1 million to aid in its programming at this year’s gala. The event, emceed by Grammy- and Tony-nominated performer Michael McElroy, also a 1985 YoungArts alum in theater, brought together many of the city's most influential artistic voices for a night of dining and dancing.

Among the crowd, artists Derrick Adams, Carroll Dunham, KAWS, José Parlá, Laurie Simmons, Mickalene Thomas, Kennedy Yanko; dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov; dancer Misty Copeland; actors Zuzanna Szadkowski and Anna Deavere Smith; philanthropists Jamie and Robert Soros; and museum directors Connie Butler, Max Hollein, Glenn Lowry, Anne Pasternak, Scott Rothkopf, and Franklin Sirmans could all be spotted.

The night opened with soft plucks by harpist David Lin that echoed up to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's The Triumph of Marius and beyond from the bottom of the Great Hall steps, which were outfitted in serpentining neon purple lights for the occasion. As attendees feasted their eyes and ears on the transfixing performance, cocktails curated by Raùl Àvila, event designer of the Met Gala and the evening's dinner service, made their way into ready hands.

YoungArts Board Chair Sarah Arison took to the stage to welcome in guests, as she and Thomas Willhelm, Gillian Hearst, Emily and Mitch Rales, Jen Rubio, Stewart Butterfield, and Sandra and Tony Tamer served as co-chairs and hosts, with legendary philanthropist Agnes Gund as the event’s honorary chair. The group could be seen mingling among the throngs as dancers and musicians made their way to the stage for a series of performances. 

Choreographer and dancer Amanda Krische, a 2012 YoungArts winner in dance, directed a sublime presentation that saw one performer vaulted over the head of her partner, reaching up toward the temple. Musician, composer and multidisciplinary artist Samora Pinderhughes, a YoungArts jazz winner in 2009 and 2010, brought out a band complete with a standing bass and drum kit for a rousing procession of music. 

As guests left the Temple of Dendur’s storied walls, they returned home with a potential first look at the next generation of art world leaders, and an example of YoungArts founders Lin and Ted Arison’s ongoing mission: to “identify exceptional young artists, amplify their potential, and invest in their lifelong creative freedom.”