A fledging fundraiser in only its second year, held in a region beset by economic doldrums. A venue that was an abandoned building, some 50,000-square-feet of "blank canvas"—which is putting it kindly. Did any of these challenges deter the event team? Not on your life.
Calgary, Alberta-based Boom Goes the Drum took on the challenge of raising funds for art museum Contemporary Calgary. The event team transformed a dilapidated building—vacant for the last five years--into an inviting event space for 700 guests. In just its second year, LOOK hosted one of Canada’s largest live and silent contemporary art auctions, installed live and interactive pieces by world-renowned artists, secured multiple top-tier sponsors, and raised more than a million dollars.
The event was just nominated for two Special Events Gala Awards. (See page 14-33 for the full list.)
Much of what made the event a success was the willingness of the event team to face all the challenges head on. Even though the venue—formerly the Centennial Planetarium--required building an infrastructure including power, restroom facilities, elevator maintenance, and a top-to-bottom cleaning, the Boom team embraced the feel of the space. "The rough concrete, elegant curves and semi-abandoned feel of the space inspired our concept of ‘Art-Work’ that this process of creating a destination for art is not only work, but is a form of art in and of itself," the team says. "With a limited decor budget, we focused on contradictions, embracing the raw forgotten spaces while creating a polished, high- end guest experience."
The evening began with VIP guests met by attendants waiting to escort them to an on-brand pink carpet outside of the loading dock. As attendees walked the carpet, they passed twisting glass and cement walls accented with architectural uplighting and washed with Contemporary Calgary's signature pink. Black stanchion guided them through lush lighting, past a live art installation, and into the registration area, where they were greeted by a line of smiling hosts dressed in elegant black ensembles, tablets at the ready, with custom designed software to check them in swiftly.
The "premium" ticket holders were greeted similarly at the entrance, but after shrugging out of their coats, they were promptly handed a glass of sparkling prosecco, then invited into the Round Room to enjoy a cash bar and complimentary canapés
The VIP guests entered the transformed Round Room of the Planetarium to an exclusive cocktail party. The hypnotic sound of DJ Chris Brennan set the mood, with canapés by award-winning Hotel Arts and hosted champagne and wine. A silent auction of major contemporary works lined the wall, and volunteers with "BID" shirts were at hand, walking guests through the digital bidding interface. Art pieces were punctuated by living art installations, designed by internationally recognized artist Tia Halliday, to create an exciting mix of static and interactive experiences.
The piece de resistance, the event teams says, was the integrative online bidding system, which catapulted the live and silent auctions into one of Canada's largest contemporary and modern art auctions. The online auction's website launched a month in advance of the event at the sponsors' marketing event: a Holt Renfrew private shopping night. The advance bidding gave ticket buyers and the general public the opportunity to either bid online, prior to the event, or wait until the evening of LOOK2015 to bid in person.
This high-touch experience was carried through to the auction checkout portion of the evening, where auction winners were welcomed into the Auction Payment Lounge—a rearranged registration area now filled with soft seating and warm lighting. Greeted immediately with a refreshing glass of prosecco, auction winners were congratulated and thanked for their significant contributions. Once they paid for their items, they were given the option to arrange for a later pick-up, or were introduced to an attendant carried their items for them and escorted them to their vehicles.
How to make a million? LOOK shows how: Treat donors the way they deserve to be treated.
Boom Goes the Drum 2501 Alyth Road SE, Unit B, Bay 5, Calgary, Alberta T2G 1P7; 587/316-5292; [email protected]; boomgoesthedrum.com