National Youngarts Foundation Backyard Ball




Torrance Hall Accepts 2017 Max Mara Young Visionary Award

Alumni Performances Directed by Grammy Award-Winning
Singer-Songwriter Grace Weber




On Saturday, January 13, 2018, the National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) announced the appointment of Sarah Arison as Chair of the Board of Trustees during the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, the Backyard Ball performance and gala. Ms. Arison will assume the position immediately. The celebratory evening honored Academy Award-winning playwright and YoungArts master teacher Tarell Alvin McCraney (1999 YoungArts Winner in Theater) with the 2018 Arison Alumni Award for his contributions and commitment to the arts.

MIAMI, FL – JANUARY 13: A genral view of atmosphere at National YoungArts Foundation Backyard Ball Performance and Gala 2018 on January 13, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for YoungArts )

“I am honored and humbled to have been appointed Chair by the Board of Trustees,” said Sarah Arison. “YoungArts has always been a part of my life. My grandparents, Ted and Lin Arison, founded the organization nearly 40 years ago to help ensure that the artists of tomorrow would receive the validation, personal support and resources they need to pursue their passions. Since then, the organization has nurtured more than twenty thousand rising artists. I look forward to working with Carolina García Jayaram, our President and CEO, and YoungArts’ dedicated staff and Board of Trustees to find even more ways to support the next generation of artists.”

Sarah Arison is active across a broad cross-section of national arts organizations. She has served as a trustee of YoungArts since 2005, developing strategic partnerships with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sotheby’s New York, Sundance Film Festival, and others to provide aspiring talent with presentation and mentorship opportunities. In 2016, she helped initiate Max Mara’s Young Visionary Award, an annual prize for an exceptional YoungArts winner.

“The National YoungArts Foundation is profoundly grateful to Sarah Arison for her strong commitment to the organization and we look forward to all that we will be able to do together with Sarah as our Chair,” said Carolina García Jayaram, YoungArts President & CEO. “There is truly no one better to help us take our next vital steps as an organization, as we expand and strengthen our programs to support aspiring artists at critical junctures in their careers.”

Bolstered by the announcement, the Backyard Ball raised more than $1.5M to support aspiring and emerging artists across the country. During remarks, Ms. García Jayaram announced the creation of the Lin Arison Excellence in Writing Award, a new $50,000 college scholarship for one exceptional YoungArts winner in Writing supported by the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation.

YoungArts Backyard Ball January 13, 2018

For the fourth consecutive year, the Backyard Ball was presented by Max Mara, an Italian luxury brand aligned with YoungArts’ mission to support young artists in their educational and professional development. Hosted by Chairs Dr. Kira and Mr. Neil Flanzraich the Backyard Ball brought together the nation’s most promising artists, industry leaders, alumni and celebrities including Amy and Richard Kohan, Jorge and Darlene Pérez, Klaus Biesenbach, Todd Bishop, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools 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, Max Mara US Director of Retail Maria Giulia Maramotti, Ariel Penzer and Jeremy Milgroom, Oti and Remi Roberts, Victoria Rogers, Ellen Salpeter, Dennis and Debra Scholl, and artists and musicians Derrick Adams, Robert Chambers, Gerald Clayton, Teresita Fernández,  Naomi Fisher, José Parlá and Betty Wright, to name a few.


The awards program featured remarks from YoungArts leadership who applauded McCraney on his accomplishments. Welcomed by a standing ovation, McCraney recalled a moment earlier during the day with the 2018 YoungArts winners, where the emerging artists called for a more inclusive, equitable and diverse future. The Academy Award-winner recounted with emotion the way that their very instinct is to take care of each other and the marginalized communities that need the most support.

YoungArts Backyard Ball January 13, 2018

Following McCraney’s acceptance speech, Maria Giulia Maramotti, Max Mara Director of US Retail and Global Brand Ambassador presented Torrance Hall (2017 YoungArts Winner in Photography) with the Max Mara Young Visionary Award, an accolade reserved for an exceptional YoungArts winner. The award aims to financially support a young artist in the development of their craft, foster art education and encourage the artist to continue the pursuit of their dreams.

The evening was emceed by WPLG-Local 10 News Anchor and Reporter and local celebrity Louis Aguirre, and featured a cocktail reception showcasing pieces from the Max Mara Spring/Summer 2018 collection and a seated dinner catered by STARR Catering Group. The YoungArts campus shimmered with stunning iridescent visual elements, gold accents and art works by Hall installed throughout the space.

Guests enjoyed a series of inspiring alumni performances with artistic direction by Grammy Award winner Grace Weber (2006 Winner in Voice & U.S Presidential Scholar in the Arts) and 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),  Jasmine “Jaz” Sinclair (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). Guest were mesmerized by the performances, enjoying Thirdstory’s “Still in Love” and eventually singing along to Weber’s renditions of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “Through the Fire.”

The evening concluded with the Backyard Bash after-party on the YoungArts Plaza with dancing and dessert under the stars, with music by legendary DJ and producer Arthur Baker.

The Backyard Ball capped off National YoungArts Week, YoungArts’ signature program beginning January 7 for 166 Finalists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts selected from approximately 8,000 applicants. Additional support for the Backyard Ball performance and gala was provided by EventStar Structures, Bacardi, Miami Herald and MIAMI Magazine.

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