Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC)’s annual fundraising gala, The Downtown Dinner, takes place on Thursday, May 17 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 and honoring artist Julie Mehretu and Stephanie & Tim Ingrassia with the organization’s 2018 Liberty Awards and a special salute to Goldman, Sachs & Co. This year’s Benefit Committee is co-chaired by Kevin Hoo and Brian Saluzzo.

This year’s Downtown Dinner will feature performances by members of acclaimed dance company Pilobolus and musician and novelist Ben Arthur. The Dinner will also include a Silent Art Auction featuring the work of LMCC program alumni. The auction is co-hosted by Paddle8 and bidding goes live at paddle8.com on May 3. 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, 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 to Julie Mehretu and the Liberty Award for Corporate Leadership will be presented to Stephanie & Tim Ingrassia and Goldman, Sachs & Co. in honor of their transformative contributions to New York City and its cultural landscape.

Past Liberty Award recipients include The Durst Family, The Keith Haring Foundation, Estate Of Tseng Kwong Chi, 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 2018 LMCC Alumni Awards will be given to Melissa Febos (Writing), Matthew Jensen (Visual Arts) and Will Rawls (Performing Arts).


Thursday, May 17 at 6 p.m.
Conrad New York

6 p.m.
Cocktails, Silent Art Auction & Awards

7:30 p.m.
Seated Dinner by Union Square Events

9 p.m.
Dessert & Artist After Party

Tim & Stephanie Ingrassia
Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Presented by Peter & Jill Kraus

Julie Mehretu
Presented by Sir David Adjaye OBE

Melissa Febos, Sarah Verdone Writing Award
Matthew Jensen, Michael Richards Award for Visual Arts
Will Rawls, Performing Arts

For more information on the Downtown Dinner, the Silent Art Auction, and to see a full list of supporters to date, click HERE.


Julie Mehretu is a world-renowned painter, born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1970 who now lives and works in New York City and Berlin. She received a Master’s of Fine Art with honors from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu is a recipient of many awards, including the The MacArthur Award (2005) and the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). She is best known for her large-scale paintings that take the abstract energy, topography, and sensibility of global urban landscapes and political unrest as a source of inspiration. She has shown her work extensively in international and national solo and group exhibitions and is represented in public and private collections around the world. Recent projects include completing two large-scale paintings for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Atrium in September 2017, entitled HOWL eon (I, II). She is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Tim and Stephanie Ingrassia are prominent arts supporters and collectors whose passion and generosity have a profound impact on the New York arts community. Tim has been at Goldman Sachs since 1986 and is currently the co-chairman of Global Mergers & Acquisitions in the Investment Banking Division. Stephanie’s early career in graphic design has included the design of books, magazines, newsletters, and promotional materials as well as teaching editorial design at the School of Visual Arts. Tim serves on the Board of Managers at the University of Virginia, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, and the Brooklyn Public Library; and Stephanie is the long serving President of the Board at the Brooklyn Museum, and is on the Board of CreativeTime and CitySquash (an inner city youth development program). They have four children ranging in age from 16-27. They grow grapes and make wine in Litchfeld County, CT.

Matthew Jensen is an interdisciplinary artist whose rigorous explorations of landscape combine walking, collecting, photography, mapping and extensive research. He is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow in photography and has received two grants from the National Endowment of the Arts for site­specific landscape projects in Delaware and New Jersey. His work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, among other institutions. He is a part­time assistant professor at Parsons School of Design and currently an artist­in­residence with New York City Urban Field Station.

Will Rawls is a choreographer, writer and lifelong performer based in Brooklyn, NY. His practice combines dance with other media to investigate the poetics of blackness, ambiguity and abstraction. His inquiries into bodily states and humanity aim to redraw notions of power and form. Rawls has presented his work at The Chocolate Factory, MoMA PS1, Performa 15, The Whitney Museum of American Art, ImpulsTanz and Portland Institute of Contemporary Art. In addition to presenting his own performances, he collaborated with Ishmael Houston­Jones to co­curate the Danspace Project Platform 2016: Lost and Found. Focusing on the intergenerational impact of the AIDS epidemic on dancers, women and people of color, he helped organize performances, reconstructions, discussions and co­edited the catalogue, Lost and Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS,Then and Now. His other writings have been published by Artforum, Triple Canopy, les presses du réel, The Museum of Modern Art, The Hammer Museum. He is recipient of a 2017­2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency, and a 2015 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant. He has held teaching fellowships at Wesleyan University and Williams College and continues to lecture widely in university and festival contexts.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), the essay collection Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017) and a forthcoming second essay collection Girlhood (Bloomsbury 2019). Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Believer, Tin House, Granta, Lenny Letter, Prairie Schooner, Guernica, Vogue, The New York Times and elsewhere. She is the recipient of prizes and fellowships from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Ragdale, and The MacDowell Colony. She lives in Brooklyn.

Ben Arthur is a musician, songwriter, and novelist. He has released two novels and six albums over the last twenty years, all of which feature lush images, ambiguity, and misapprehension. His most recent work, Call and Response, is a collection of songs responding to the work of other artists and includes collaborations with bestselling authors Jonathan Lethem and George Saunders.

He is also a producer and the host of the web series SongCraft, in which he writes and records a song in the course of a day with a featured songwriter. Guest artists have included John Wesley Harding, Ximena Sarinana, Turin Brakes, Ben Sollee, and many others. The first two half-hour episodes of the show, which aired on PBS, each garnered Emmy nominations. As in his solo work, missed connections, loss, and hope figure prominently in the songs. He has appeared on national television, syndicated international radio, and countless commercial and public radio stations. His tours throughout the US and Europe have included guest appearances in schools and universities in 12 states and in the UK. In New York City he has recently performed at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, and Union Hall, and he is an occasional co-host of the Bushwick Book Club, a performance series in which songwriters write new works inspired by an assigned book.

Pilobolus began at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in 1971. Moses Pendleton, an English literature major and cross-country skier; Jonathan Wolken, a philosophy science major and fencer; and Steve Johnson, a pre-med student and pole vaulter were enrolled in a dance composition class taught by Alison Becker Chase. In that class, they created their first dance, which they titled “Pilobolus”—and a legacy of movement and magic was born.

Pilobolus crystallinus is a phototropic (light loving) fungus. Commonly known as “Hat Thrower,” its spores accelerate 0–45 mph in the first millimeter of their flight and adhere to wherever they land. The father of Jonathan Wolken was studying pilobolus in his biology lab when the group first formed. The name was apt, and stuck.

The group then went on to create dozens of dance works with its founding members Robby Barnett, Alison Chase, Martha Clarke, Lee Harris, Moses Pendelton, Michael Tracy, and Jonathan Wolken. In the more than four decades since, Pilobolus has performed on Broadway, at the Oscars, and the Olympic games, and has appeared on television, in movies, in advertisements, and in schools and businesses and created over 120 dance works. The company continues to propel the seeds of expression via human movement to every corner of the world, growing and changing each year while reaching new audiences and exploring new visual and musical planes.


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, LMCC has been dedicated to empowering artists in Manhattan and enhancing the cultural vibrancy of communities in New York City.

In 2018, LMCC will award over $1,000,000 in grants; place over 70 individuals and arts groups in studio residency programs; 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.

Through its investment in individual artists and small arts groups, its robust network of partners in the public and private sectors, and its integrated approach to fostering local neighborhood efforts, LMCC aims to spark public imagination and inspire personal connection to NYC’s communities.

For more information about LMCC, visit lmcc.net.

For more information, please contact Chris Schimpf, Nick Mallchok, Krista Williams or Carla Sacks 212.741.1000 at Sacks & Co.