Two years ago, LOOK didn’t exist. Today, it is a world-class, nationally recognized, million-dollar annual fundraising event.
Hailed as “One of Canada’s hottest events” by the Globe and Mail, LOOK is the flagship annual fundraiser for Contemporary Calgary, a modern and contemporary art museum that began as a collaboration of visual arts partners. Their mission; to build a global city of choice by engaging Calgary in the art of our times. The event was produced by Calgary based Boom Goes the Drum and it just won the title of Best Event in Canada, Produced for a High Profile Charity at the 2016 Canadian Event Industry Awards.
In 2014, Contemporary Calgary won a city-wide bid to move into the sought-after historical Centennial Planetarium, with plans to open a major destination for modern and contemporary art. With fundraising as the main objective, they produced the inaugural fundraising gala – LOOK2014 and in 2015, repeated the event for a stunning 700 guests.
Despite the difficult economic environment, the committee developed a matching fund, made possible by private donations, allowing LOOK to raise a stunning one million dollars.
Held in the future home of Contemporary Calgary, a 1960’s brutalist style building that had sat empty for 5 years, the space posed a range of possibilities and challenges, the up side was that the unique 50,000 sq ft was also a blank canvas.
The rough concrete, elegant curves and semi-abandoned feel of the space inspired the 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. With a limited décor budget they focused on contradictions, embracing the raw forgotten spaces while creating a polished, high-end guest experience.
VIP Guests began their evening on the branded pink carpet, passing twisting glass and cement walls accented with architectural uplighting, past a live art installation and into the transformed Round Room of the Planetarium. The hypnotic sound of DJ Chris Brennan set the mood amidst canapés by the award-winning Hotel Arts. 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. Stationery art was punctuated by living art installations, designed by internationally recognized artist Tia Halliday.
Contemporary Calgary Fundraising Chair Jay Mehr thanked VIP guests and invited them the ‘Temporary Contemporary’ space for more libations and a keynote presentation by New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, passing a lit string-art-installation by Artist Randy Niessen stretching from floor to ceiling en route.
The evenings auctions raised over $350,000 making LOOK host to one of the largest modern and contemporary art auctions in Canada.