On the evening of September 9, The Rockaway Hotel + Spa was brimming with artists, creatives, and philanthropists alike. In a lively evening honoring three important and impactful artist communities, guests made the trip to the edge of Queens to take over for the Artists First Alliance Collaborative Benefête. The Benefête, spearheaded by Baxter St., NXTHVN, and The Last Resort Artist Retreat, raised critical funds to create more equitable artist residencies and fellowships.
The hosts of the Artists First Alliance included Michi Jigarian and Jil Weinstock, leaders of Baxter St.; Titus Kaphar and Jason Price, founders of NXTHVN; and Derrick Adams, founder of The Last Resort Artist Retreat. With organizations hailing from across the East Coast—New York, New Haven and Baltimore were all represented—the event gathered a diverse group of industry leaders and tastemakers to support the meaningful cause. The energetic crowd proved that everyone was ready to party in the name of art – the evening consisted of live performances by Chuck D of Public Enemy and Black Thought as well as DJ sets by Mark Ronson and LION BABE. As the atmosphere buzzed with creativity and connection, customized tequila cocktails by Maestro Dobel and rosé from Wölffer Estate flowed throughout the night and hungry partygoers ended the evening with tacos, pizza, and sourdough waffles from Rockaway local favorites. Notable guests included Mickalene Thomas, Zoë Buckman, Sarah Arison, Dave Guy, Jenny Walton, Sarah Hoover, Ivan Forde, Kennedy Yanko, Charlotte Groeneveld, Lee Quiñones, and more.
Though different organizations, all three focus on serving and uplifting artists who come from underrepresented communities. Baxter Street is one of New York’s oldest artist-run nonprofits, founded in 1984 with a focus on providing resources to lens-based artists. A younger organization, NXTHVN is a New Haven-based year-long fellowship program that provides access and education to artists and curators. The Last Resort Artist Retreat is a residency that emphasizes and encourages relaxation and rejuvenation for Black artists. Through this collaboration, the Artists First Alliance was able to raise funds to make artist residencies more equitable while fostering a healthy and creative ecosystem in the art world.