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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 30, 2010

State of the arts



by Kawehi Haug
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

New York's DJ Rekha was the guest DJ at Art After Dark's most successful event to date, 2008's Bollywood-themed party "So Sari! Bollywood Nights."

Honolulu Academy of Arts

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

ART SMART:

The 411 on Art After Dark, then and now
The very first Art After Dark, themed "Kung Fu Friday," happened Feb. 27, 2004.
Some 260 people showed up to the first event.
The last AAD event on March 26 drew 1,701 people.
In 2004, AAD drew a total of 5,313 people.
Last year, 14,636 people attended AAD events.
The most popular AAD event was its Indian-themed "So Sari! Bollywood Nights" event held July 24, 2008. Culturally themed events tend to draw the biggest crowds. This is the seventh year of AAD, and according to the program staff, there's no plan to halt the program anytime soon.

Member privileges
To become a Honolulu Academy of Arts member (members get big discounts on museum events), call 532-8724 or join at www.honoluluacademy.org. Membership fees range from $20 (for students) to $700 (for a sponsorship membership). The regular individual membership is $55 for one year.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

An invitation to the ball


The Starlight Ball, Art After Dark's annual fundraising gala, takes place 7 to 11 p.m. May 8 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
This year's event theme is classy "Black + White." The party will include food stations courtesy of Nobu Waikiki, town, RumFire, Whole Foods Market, La Gelateria and Hokulani Bake Shop.
Starting this year, the Academy will hold the ball later than it has in previous years.
"It was coming on the tail end of the holiday season," said Lesa Griffith, the Academy's communications director. "People have been run dry by the holidays and other fundraising events, and the last thing they want to do is pay for another fundraiser."
Last year's event drew a smaller crowd than previous balls, and the Academy is hoping that the schedule change will help increase attendance. The ball raises about $50,000 annually, which goes directly to the museum's operating budget.
Tickets for the Starlight Ball are $85 per person (or $500-$2,500 for tables of four to 10) and can be purchased by calling 532-8700. For more information, visit www.artafterdark.org.

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It was seven years ago this year that the Honolulu Academy of Arts launched its after-hours Art After Dark event. The monthly art-centric cocktail party was created to get young people through the museum doors while boosting their knowledge, however covertly (masked with music and good party vibes), of fine art.

With this month's installment of Art After Dark just hours away and the Starlight Ball, AAD's annual fundraiser gala, just a week away, we wanted to check in with the Academy to see how it's faring in these dire economic times. And the news is mostly good.

Over the last year, the Academy, like businesses and organizations everywhere, has been forced to respond to the economic downturn by taking some pretty serious measures, including staff layoffs and budget cuts. Though the Art After Dark program has been affected by the cuts, the diminished staff is working hard to make sure that we on the outside don't feel their pain. The AAD party crew is hanging tough, and it's paying off.

"If you're not one of the people working behind the scenes, you don't realize it," added Lesa Griffith, the Academy's director of communications. "It's amazing to see that all of the bells and whistles of the event have remained as bright and loud, even with fewer hands and less money."

And things haven't just remained the same on the AAD front, they've improved.

According to Denise Nakano, the Academy's associate director of development for special events and programs, last month's Art After Dark event drew 1,701 people a huge increase from the Feb. 27, 2004, inaugural event, which drew just 260 people and it continues to grow. The increase in attendance reflects an across-the-board growth at the Academy at least where public programming and community attendance are concerned.

While the place might be low on hard cash Nakano said corporate sponsorship has dropped significantly over the past couple of years it's growing in popularity.

"Visitorship in 2009 was consistently higher than the same month the preceeding year and regular attendance to the museum has definitely increased," said Griffith. "Attendance to our events is growing because people are looking for a bargain to have a good time."

CULTURE CLUB

Art After Dark isn't the only party in town. Mark your calendars for these upcoming events at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Tonight: A Camelot-themed Art After Dark (6-9 p.m., $10). Mark the coming of spring with a nod to Cape Cod, sailboats, Top-Siders, touch football, Wayfarers, tousled hair and the mystique of the alluring Kennedy family.

May 1-26: The Doris Duke Theatre is holding the first ever 'Oiwi Film Festival a festival of films by indigenous Hawaiians. For a list of films and showtimes, visit www.honoluluacademy.org.

May 8: The Starlight Ball (7-11 p.m., $85) is AAD's party of the year. See box, right, for more info.

May 10: Chamber Music Hawaii: The Tresemble (7:30 p.m., $25; $20 Academy members; free for students with ID). The season finale program at Doris Duke Theatre features music by Ravel, Debussy, Mahler and Saint-Saens.

May 13: The museum now stays open late every second Thursday of the month for its "aloHAA" event (5-9 p.m., $10), which was created for art lovers who can't make it to the museum during its regular hours, and who'd rather not deal with the Art After Dark crowds. There's food and drinks too.

May 14: The Doris Duke Theatre at the Academy holds its monthly Friends of Film Friday every second Friday of the month. The event is a film buff's mixer with food and drink and one-time-only screenings of foreign, independent and restored classic films. Next up: "For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism" (6:30 p.m., $8-$15).

May 16: Bank of Hawaii Family Sundays (11 a.m.-5 p.m., free), every third Sunday of the month feature keiki-friendly activities. BOH Sundays attracts more than 1,000 people each month.

June 12: ABC Stores of Hawaii presents "Les Peetz: With and Without Strings" at Doris Duke Theatre (7:30 p.m., $20). No other local jazz artist has so consistently filled the Academy's seats to capacity over the years as has pianist Les "too tall" Peetz. The ensemble will swing with the master on a program that includes standards, classics, and hits from Carl Sandburg's "The American Songbag."

June 23: Real men wear frills. The textile exhibition "Men in Lace" opens in June with a display that's a window into a time when men liked prettier clothes.

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