Brooklyn’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) will be hosting its inaugural Masquerade Ball at the Lepercq Ballroom at BAM on May 14th. Intended to be a night of celebration, dancing, and dining in support of MoCADA’s ambition to create a new sustainable community space to house the unique museum, the ball will feature Honorary Gala Chairs Jesse Williams, Estelle, and Bevy Smith who will be honoring Mickalene Thomas, Tonya Lewis Lee, Spike Lee, and Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders for their commendable social justice contributions through the arts. TransCanada will also be recognized for their philanthropic support of the global arts community. We spoke with James E. Bartlett, the Executive Director of MoCADA, to learn a bit more about MoCADA and the upcoming event.
MoCADA is in the process of locating to a new home; what are the other future plans for the museum?
In 2018, we’ll be moving into a space that’s about six times the size we have now. It will offer a lot more new opportunities, programing wise and exhibition wise. We’ll have multiple gallery spaces so we’ll be able to show multiple exhibitions at once. We’re also going to continue our motto of spreading our art into the community and expanding some of those programs. So we put art in public housing and we have outdoor concerts and film screenings. We also put arts programing in small business as well as artist school programs. We’re really trying to enhance those as well as grow our physical space and increase the offerings that we have there.
With BAM’s upcoming Dance Africa Festival beginning May 22nd, BAM seem like the perfect venue to hold the masquerade ball. What is MoCADA’s relationship with BAM and with this space?
This is our first time utilizing the space. We’ve worked with BAM in the past programing partnerships and things like that. This is our first time having an event at this space.
What upcoming projects will the funds collected from the fundraiser be used toward?
The funds will go to the preparation for the move into the new space. We still have a bit of fundraising to finalize that; then also making our programing more accessible online and internationally. So a lot of artist talks and panels and things like that, as well as creating a website where we can live stream those and start to really interact with the international and national art community.
How can those who cannot attend the Masquerade Ball contribute to the organization?
Visit MoCADA.org to see all of our programing and donating. Also, visit the museum to check out the exhibition and to see everything we do.
How does the masquerade theme lend to the mission of the museum?
It lends an element of artistic pursuit to a party. This also adds the element of creativity. When you look at the New Orleans Masquerade Ball there are a lot of roots in African traditions and things like that as well as African mask making.
What is the most creative do-it-yourself mask that you’ve seen?
I haven’t seen any yet! I will have to wait and see.
Get tickets for the MoCADA Masquerade Ball here (it’s the only way to find out who the special musical guest will be). And don’t forget that festive attire is encouraged, so be sure to don your most decadent mask!