NLEgala13On March 29, 2016, The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling opened the doors for The Journey Continues – No Longer Empty’s annual benefit. The sold-out event was attended by friends, artists, family, and colleagues who enjoyed a festive evening with cocktails and dinner, an award ceremony, live and silent auctions, followed by entertainment and dancing in the museum’s gracious Living  Room.

No Longer Empty – an arts organization that invigorates new, re-opening, and underutilized spaces in all boroughs with site-specific art installations and programming – was Broadway Housing Community’s premier attraction at the Sugar Hill Building, two years ago as it approached the opening of its highly anticipated residential, exhibition, and educational space. With construction still on-going at the time, NLE presented If You Build It – a multi-floor feature with art, installations, performances and activities created by more than twenty local, national, and international artists, curators, and community organizations. For six-weeks, the event served to introduce the architectural wonder to the neighborhood, while integrating and reflecting the Sugar Hill community; its people, families, creators, and its heritage.

It seemed perfectly apropos that NLE would return to the now fully engaged building to celebrate this important evening in honor of Broadway Housing Director, Ellen Baxter, along with Sarah Calderon of ArtPlace America and Socially-Engaged Artist , Sol Aramendi.

Pushing the boundaries in art, always, If You Build It was exemplary of the work NLE has presented in New York neighborhoods since 2009 under the directorship of Naomi Hersson-Ringskog with Chief Curator, Manon Slome, and an incredibly slight, but power-packed team. As Master of Ceremonies, Ed García Conde, eloquently expressed during the event, NLE finds a place unused, and sometimes unloved, fills it with the creative language of its community, and leaves it teeming with life–no longer empty!

Hosted by Paddle8, the silent auction included commissioned artwork by over 25 artists; the reverse auction was led by Christie’s New York; hors d-oeuvres and dinner were copiously catered by Project Renewal’s Comfort Foods; and, Retumba! got everyone on the dance floor at the end of the night. Proceeds from the benefit will support NLE’s in continuing this groundbreaking journey, and especially its Y.Dot Youth Docent Program serving NYC high school students. Visit nolongerempty.org to learn more.

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Photos: Guests await presentation in the Living Room; NLE’s Manon Slome presents with MC, Ed García Conde, in the background (left); Youth Docent, Natalie Bedon and her mother Alexandra Bedon speak about the impact of the Youth Docent Program (right); 2016 honorees Sarah Calderon, Ellen Baxter, Sol Aramendi; Retumba! performance. All photos by Whitney Browne.