Some 500 artists and art lovers turned out on on Feb. 25 for the annual Amref Health Africa ArtBall in DUMBO, Brooklyn. The event provided a chance to sample West and East African food by Teranga and Bunna Café; dance to live music by Chop and Quench (the house band in “Fela! on Broadway”); and make connections and network––all while contributing to a philanthropic cause.
Amref Health Africa is a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the overall delivery of healthcare services in Africa. The organization has held an annual fundraiser every year since 2016 to support its healthcare programs on the continent.
This year’s ArtBall was the first since the start of the pandemic in 2019. Emily Correale, Amref Health Africa’s director of development and communications, told the AmNews, “It was just overall, such a great night. We were super-happy to have it back!”
Art galas in New York City are traditionally centered around white artists and geared toward moneyed audiences; Amref wanted their ArtBall to be different. “The way that we designed our ball was that we wanted it to be the antithesis of the traditional New York City charity gala,” Correale said. “There’s not a huge barrier because of the price, there’s not a sit-down dinner; it’s not a place where people feel excluded. It’s always been a very diverse event: all of our stakeholders at the event, all of our curators—everyone from our event’s producer to all of our partners. We really are careful about whom we work with and about how we can create a space that’s more inclusive than the traditional fundraiser that is usually in the fundraiser/nonprofit world.”
The ArtBall fundraiser featured an installation that explained elements of the Kefeta program.In addition to ArtBall, Amref conducted an online art auction. Together, the two events aimed to raise $150,000 to help fund Amref’s five-year partnership in working with the Ethiopian youth program, Kefeta. The program will work with 2 million youth across 18 Ethiopian cities to create youth employment, financial education, health services, and adult literacy programs.