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Our First Virtual Holiday Benefit: Event Recap and Highlights!

December 12th, 2020 marked htE’s first ever virtual benefit event! We were thrilled to welcome so many attendees and performers all across the country to raise awareness for domestic violence and the healing power of the arts. A special shout-out to our wonderful host, and long-term teaching artist, Catherine Mack who facilitated the event and brought out the holiday spirit.

We opened the event with a screening of the short film, Domestic, based on the true story of one of our participants. Our guest teaching artist and vocal performer Bisan Toron then engaged the audience in an interactive expressive vocal exercise she has developed, called "Voice Creatures", helping to foster group and internal self-connection. In her work, Bisan invites students to embrace our many complex sides and lean into the direction that our body takes us. She describes her practice as “combining the somatic and the spiritual, supported by classical technique that frees the myriad colors of the voice”. We were thankful for the opportunity to enter a meditative space together and learn more about our spirits and bodies!

Catherine Mack (left), Bisan Toron (right)

We were lucky to have Olivia Wilson from the Manhattan Family Justice Center open a space for discussion by first educating us about the current intimate partner violence epidemic and how the MFJC seeks to tackle the issues. She provided ample resources and answered questions to help audience members understand how they can be involved and support survivors.

We also welcomed two talented performance artists to share their work over the course of the afternoon:

Throughout the event, singer-songwriter David and the Circumstances shared with us his music and powerful lyrics. His melodic and peaceful sound captivated the audience and unified our hopes for change. He describes his work as addressing “existential questions, light, darkness and the twilight in between.”

Transformative Writing practitioner and our guest teaching artist Alana Saab invited us into a turbulent romance between a young girl and a man through her short story “Philosophy.” She describes the relationship through its transformation from a luscious, fragrant garden to a rotting and gray graveyard. As her soul has wilted and she no longer finds joy in what she once did, she navigates through the challenge of realizing that the man cannot bring her the joy she once had. The vivid narrative offered a powerful reminder of entanglement in an abusive relationship.

Our event culminated with some virtual holiday shopping and some words for our founders, Tanya Gupta and Andrew Moon. Catherine shared the work made by survivors at htE found on htE's Etsy shop, while featuring some more shops that have been launched by our participants:

All in all, it was a fun event and although we miss the in-person connections, we are grateful that the virtual platform worked out successfully! Shout out to our co-founder Andrew Moon for overseeing the technicals throughout, and to everyone behind the scenes without whom this would not have been possible. And last but not least, thank you to everyone who participated and donated on this exciting day. We look forward to continuing to celebrate the arts with our htE community in the future!

Missed the event and want to check it out? View the highlights reel on Youtube here, or watch directly below:

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