Pharrell Williams and American Express Unite to Raise Money for Arts Education

by Aria Darcella
Yellow Ball

Manhattanites who gazed up at the Empire State Building Monday night to see it glowing a gorgeous shade of yellow can thank Pharrell Williams and American Express. The New York City landmark was lit up to coincide with the Yellow Ball — an event held at the Brooklyn Museum to support arts education around the country. All ticket sales from the evening benefitted Young Audiences Arts for Leaning, the largest arts-in-education network in the country. American Express also gifted $1 million to the organization.

300 guests, including Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, and Coco Rocha, dined on a menu crafted by American Express Global Dining Collection Chef, Dominique Crenn, while listening to a soundtrack curated by DJ Stretch Armstrong and being entertained by David Blaine, who had no problem performing his infamous frog regurgitation trick at the dinner table.

Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams (Getty Images for American Express, Kevin Mazur)

Beyond being a dinner, the Yellow Ball was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Pharrell tapped some of his most talented friends to fill the night with entertainment. Contemporary artist Daniel Arsham created a multi-room art installation and A$AP Ferg and Missy Elliot put on unforgettable live performances.

“I’ve been an artist since I was a kid,” said Ferg. “My father was an artist, my grandmother’s an artist… it’s just a part of me. I feel like the next step in my career is to give back and look for the next best thing that’s out there. To pass the torch, or collaborate with some of these young artists, and give them opportunities as well.”

Pharrell Williams (Getty Images for American Express, Kevin Mazur)

“I’m just so grateful that American Express understands the need for this,” said Pharrell. “I feel lucky because in our journey of working together, education and art has been very important to me. But the idea that we could put something together to preserve the artistic disciplines at all costs, and the young creatives at all costs, that’s been mind-blowing for me, because most corporations don’t care.”

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