LMCC's Downtown Dinner 2017 to Honor Durst Family, Keith Haring Foundation and More

By: Apr. 06, 2017

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's (LMCC) annual fundraising gala, The Downtown Dinner, takes place on Thursday, May 4 at 6:00 p.m. at Conrad New York.

More than 500 prominent individuals and leaders from the business, civic and cultural sectors will join LMCC in celebrating the vibrancy of Lower Manhattan and honoring Anita Durst, Helena Durst and the Durst Family, The Keith Haring Foundation and the Estate of Tseng Kwong Chiwith the organization's 2017 Liberty Awards. This year's Benefit committee is co-chaired by Kevin Hoo and Brian Saluzzo.

For The Downtown Dinner 2017, the Conrad New York's event spaces will be transformed with one-of-a-kind art installations and performances by Kevin James, Saya Woolfalk, Joshua Frankel & Judd Greenstein, Netta Yerushalmy and YACKEZ. The Dinner will also feature a silent art auction featuring the work of more than 50 established and emerging artists, most of whom have participated in LMCC's programs. The auction is co-hosted by Paddle8 and bidding goes live at paddle8.com on April 20. Guests will enjoy cocktails, hear from the honorees during the Liberty Awards ceremony, enjoy an intimate dinner experience catered by Union Square Events and mix and mingle with LMCC artists during the Artist After Party.

The Downtown Dinner is not only an opportunity to celebrate LMCC and Lower Manhattan's cultural vibrancy, but is also one of LMCC's most significant fundraising tools. Each year The Dinner raises upwards of $900,000, representing a vital share of LMCC's operating budget. The proceeds from the Downtown Dinner fund LMCC's free arts programming and services, which support hundreds of artists and arts groups annually and reach audiences of 100,000+. Attended by New York City's most distinguished corporations--including American Express, Cisco, CBRE, Havas Media, The Howard Hughes Corporation, Oracle, Related, Structure Tone and The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, among others--The Dinner is typically sold out in advance. See here for reservations.

Each year LMCC honors extraordinary leaders from the artistic, corporate and/or civic communities for their catalytic contributions to life in Lower Manhattan and beyond. This year the Liberty Award for Artistic Leadership will be presented jointly to The Keith Haring Foundation and the Estate of photographer (and frequent Haring collaborator) Tseng Kwong Chi, and the Liberty Award for Corporate Leadership will be presented to Anita Durst, Helena Durst and the Durst Family in honor of their transformative contributions to New York City and its cultural landscape.

Past Liberty Award recipients include Frank Sciame, Laurie Anderson, Peter Poulakakos, Xu Bing, The Trust for Governors Island, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Cherrie Nanninga, Richard Serra, Kevin Burke & Con Edison, Robert R. Douglass & the Alliance for Downtown New York, The National September 11 Memorial & Museum architecture and engineering team, Kenneth I. Chenault & American Express and The Joyce Theater.

LMCC is also proud to present awards to three artists who have recently participated in LMCC's artistic programs and subsequently gone on to significant career achievements. The 2017 LMCC President's Awards will be given to Lisa Ko (Writing), William Cordova (Visual Arts) and Faye Driscoll (Performing Arts).


Anita Durst, Helena Durst and the Durst Family take an integrated approach to real estate, business and charitable endeavors. Since its founding in 1915, the family-run Durst Organization has been a pioneer committed to innovation in construction and design, including in Lower Manhattan. As an owner of One World Trade Center, The Durst Organization is responsible for leasing, marketing and management of the 3.1 million square foot office tower. As Chief Administrative Officer, Helena Durst is a member of the leasing department and has instituted a comprehensive greening of the company's building management operations. Anita Durst founded chashama in 1995 and has worked for over 20 years to secure over one million square feet of space in New York City for artists.


The Keith Haring Foundation and the Estate of Tseng Kwong Chi have furthered the legacies of these two groundbreaking artists. Keith Haring (1958-1990) was part of a group of artists in the 1980s East Village art scene that collaborated on exhibitions, performances, and other events. Haring is widely known for his subway drawings, executed without permission, in white chalk on the black paper used to cover vacant advertising panels in the NYC subways. Tseng Kwong Chi (1950-1990) created a prolific photographic oeuvre from 1978-1989 that spans many artistic traditions: conceptual, pop self-portraits and collaborative projects with key artists from 1980s downtown scene, including documentation of Haring's subway drawings.


Located in the heart of lower Manhattan's Battery Park City, Conrad New York is a contemporary luxury hotel which was recently awarded with prestigious LEED Gold for New Construction Certification established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institution (USGBI). With magnificent views of the Hudson River, this exceptional 463-room all-suite hotel is adjacent to Hudson River Park and in close proximity to many of the city's important and historic landmarks and prominent neighborhoods, including TriBeCa and SoHo. Conrad New York offers a new standard of luxury, featuring spacious guestrooms that average over 430 square feet, each outfitted with integrated technology, flat-screen televisions and individual climate control, as well other unparalleled in-room amenities. Sixteen stories above street level, the hotel's seasonal "green roof" features a striking rooftop bar with endless views of the New York Harbor and Manhattan. The hotel boasts over 30,000 square feet of adaptable meeting space, including the 6,200 square-foot Gallery Ballroom; Union Square Events (USE) is the exclusive caterer. Follow Conrad New York on social media pages: @ConradNewYork.


Since its founding in 1973, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) has been dedicated to empowering artists and enhancing the cultural vibrancy of New York City through a broad range of platforms and initiatives, all based on the belief that artists are an inspirational and catalyzing force within any community.

In 2017, LMCC will award over $650,000 in grants; place 100 individuals and arts groups in studio residency programs; offer free professional development workshops and programs designed to help artists enhance the sustainability of their careers; and present over 140 days of free cultural experiences for the public to enjoy, including its flagship River To River Festival, Open Studios with artist talks and work-in-process showings, Arts East River Waterfront programs, and exhibitions & installations in LMCC's Arts Center at Governors Island and other locations.

LMCC's robust network of partners in the public and private sectors combined with its commitment to investing in individual artists and small arts groups and its integrated approach to fostering local neighborhood efforts is all directed toward sparking public thought and imagination and inspiring personal attachment to-and investment in-NYC's communities.

Pictured: Singer Alicia Hall Moran performing at The Downtown Dinner 2016. Photo by Paula Lobo for LMCC.


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