On Saturday, April 8, more than 1,000 people dressed in wild costumes and sporting glitter and face paint are expected to join forces in Lexington’s Distillery District for the 49th annual Beaux Arts Ball. The annual student-run fundraiser is organized by the University of Kentucky’s College of Design, and, according to executive director of the Beaux Arts Foundation Tara Prasad, is branded as a “costume rave for charity.”
As one of the largest student run non-profit organizations in Kentucky, the Beaux Arts Foundation aims “to bring various forms of the arts and humanities to the community of Lexington, advocated for the accessibility of the arts to the public, and to support charities that promote the livelihood of Kentuckians,” said Prasad – and that primarily happens with an annual high profile bash that donates thousands of dollars to non-profits each year.
Following roots that stretch back to 19th century France, architecture schools across the world have been throwing their own form of the Beaux Arts Ball for more than century, most following the general theme of costume party fundraisers that call for “creativity and imagination beyond the scope of tamed human minds,” explained Prasad. Staying true to these roots, the ball continues to feature dozens of performers, ranging from live painters to pole dancers and aerialists each year. Lexington art gallery Homegrown Collectives will be on hand at this year’s event to perform live graffiti, wood-burning, glassblowing, live painting and drawing; the event will also include a fashion show and drag show. Among this year’s installation artists are Jason Scroggin and Jordan Hines, both professors at the University of Kentucky’s College of Design. Scroggin will be bring textured interactive play pieces, which he calls Massimals, while Hines, who co-owns a small local design practice called Informal Office, will bring an inflatable room.
Continuing with the tradition of supporting the arts, the event highlights local and regional music artists in its music and performance lineup. This year’s lineup is headlined by electronic producer Luca Lush and also includes Ohio-based electronic duo Echo Mecca, Lexington hip hop crew Nemo Achida & Friends, and local producers Ellie Herring, Coughinz, and Fleece. Lancelott, an electronic producer who claims to represent the “wildest side of Appalachian party culture,” will also perform.
Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit two organizations that fit closely with the presenting organization’s mission.
“Since the BAF has a tradition of being hosted and their events run by students of the College of Design, specifically architecture, we are choosing to support the College of Design Scholarship Fund,” said Prasad. The event will also benefit fellow Lexington arts-based non-profit Institute 193, a downtown gallery that Prasad said “has a tradition of documenting artists who define and embody contemporary art in the modern American South.” Although based in Lexington, Institute 193 has a national and international reach representing artists who have gone on to be included in several leading galleries, museums, and publications around the United States and the world. Proceeds from the annual ball have allowed the foundation to donate more than $180,000 to charity in recent years.
While the event has taken place in various warehouses and even parking garages over the years, this year’s event will be held at The Burl, a live music venue that opened in July of 2016 in a restored train depot just off Manchester Street. Although the 300-capacity location is smaller than past venues, Prasad explained that, it has “managed to celebrate Lexington’s music and art scene in a unique way in comparison to other venues.”
Prasad also hinted that, in addition to the unique artistic performances and installments, the event has a couple of surprises in store for attendees of the ball.
Beaux Arts Ball will take place from 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 8 at The Burl (375 Thompson St.). Advance tickets are available online, at CD Central or on UK's campus (near Pence Hall), and will also be available at the door while supplies last.
For more information, visit http://beaux-arts-ball.org/.