New York|Arts

How To Meet People, Go To Parties, And Oh Yeah, See Some Art: Join A Young Members Circle

Like meeting people? Like art? Like parties? Wondering what you're going to do with yourself all winter?  Consider joining one of New York's Young Members Societies...-

The New York Social Season starts in October, and while that may seem far away, aspiring socialites and arts patrons really just have a month and a half to join a museum or performing arts organization in time for the invitations to start rolling in.

So how do you choose an organization worthy of your esteemed patronage? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Choose an avenue of the arts you actually like!

The Whitney throws some crazy good parties, but if the thought of contemporary American art makes you sick, maybe it's not the best museum to hang your hat on. It goes without saying that these circles are filled with people who don't give a hoot about the actual art, but if you're going to throw so much of your money and time to something, make it something you can stomach.

  • Find out who the other members are!

Some of these museums have more Lower East Side, bohemian demographics; others are full of people who work in finance. Not saying you have to stick to a type, necessarily, but make sure to not be caught unawares.

  • What are you really looking for in a membership?

Be honest with yourself: are you ACTUALLY looking for insider access to an arts organization? If so, The Guggenheim, The MoMA, and the American Ballet might be good fits. But if you're really just looking to network, look at organizations that are more focused on social events. (The Young Associates Of Chelsea Art Museum is a good blend of both). Obviously, the more established and "Old School New York" an organization is, the more its patrons will follow that mold.

  • Know EXACTLY what you're signing up for!

Some organizations offer full admittance to their major parties, others just offer discounted tickets.

  • Take Advantage

Besides entrance to social spheres and some cool parties, these organizations are famous for a reason: please please please (and we promise we won't be preachy for the rest of this post, but PLEASE!) take advantage of all the membership benefits offered. If you're going to be a member of one of New York's most famous institutions, have something to show for it, besides social cache.

Visual Arts

The Metropolitan Museum Young Members Society:

If you're just starting out, The Metropolitan Museum's Young Members Society is one of the easiest ways to start getting involved: all you have to do is be under 35 and a museum member at any of the 15 Membership levels of the Met, the cheapest of which starts at $70. The fee is nominal, so of course the membership perks are too, but the annual Young Members Party is a big blowout, and a good way to get a feel of the whole "arts patron" world.

The Apollo Circle:

If you're willing to "donate" $1,000 to the Met, then the museum will pay you back with unparalleled access to the Museum's collection, as well as an invite to the annual Apollo Circle Benefit Dance, described by Vanity Fair as "the most important event on the junior social set's calendar." Past attendees include Lauren Santo Domingo, Amanda Hearst, Tinsley Mortimer, and Ivanka Trump, so if you're looking for major social cache along with your arts patronage, this might be the group for you. Just don't use The Montefeltro Studiolo as an ice breaker; as a member quipped last year, ""Do you think anyone here actually cares about art?"

[Guests mingle at the Apollo Circle Benefit Dance]

The Young Fellows Of The Frick:

For $500, Young Fellows Of The Frick get unlimited admission to the museum for one year, invitations to special exhibitions and viewings, and, perhaps most tantalizing, invitations to the Spring Party and the Young Fellows Ball, where Topper and Tinsley famously danced their last dance.

-

Young Associates Of Chelsea Art Museum

Just like its affiliate museum, the Young Associates of the Chelsea Art Museum is a young, hip, and still relatively small group. For $150, patrons in their 20s and 30s are invited to gallery tours, film screenings, chamber concerts, and frequent parties at the museum.
-

-

Guggenheim Young Collectors Council

For $500 tax-deductable dollars, you can be on the Guggenheim Young Collectors Council. This group seems to be by far the most art-oriented of the bunch, as the goal is to

"further the understanding of contemporary art through a program or private curator-led visits to artists'studios, galleries, collections, and art fairs."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what about the parties? The Young Collectors Council used to throw a pretty good party, with A-listers such as Blake Lively, Natalia Vodianova, Padma Lakshmi, and Barbara Bush in attendance. Sadly, the Young Collectors Council Artist's Ball was retired in 2008, perhaps to focus on a more salubrious public image (though they did recently host a mixer at The Gates; so much for erudition.)

*The YCC is planning a large party on September 23rd to benefit the YCC Acquisitions Fund; maybe this will bring the parties back to the Guggenheim?

The Whitney Contemporaries

The Whitney Museum is opening in The Meatpacking, so that should give you some sense of how trendy this particular art museum is at the moment.

An individual membership to The Whitney Contemporaries costs $400, but it's definitely one of the social groups with the most clout. Membership gets you invitations to opening cocktail receptions, gallery walks, and discounts to the annual Art Party (this past June it was hosted by BCBG Max Azria). It might also give you a leg up at other Whitney parties, including the Studio Party, The Gala, and what we imagine will be one hell of a groundbreaking party...

Taylor MomsenWhitney PartyDonatella Versace, Jet LiTaylor MomsenLiz SwigKeith Lissner, Rachelle Hruska

-

The MoMA Junior Associates

If you're an art geek, the MoMA Junior Associates certainly has some of the best art-related perks, including a private brunch with the curators at P.S. 1, curatorial walk-throughs of upcoming exhibits, and tours of some of Manhattan's most impressive private collections.

Of course, there's also the annual Garden Party, which attracts quite the celebrity and socialite roster.

Individual Memberships are$750, ($675 for someone who is already a MoMA Member)

Performing Arts Organizations

Young Patrons Of Lincoln Center:

With YPLC, you get a lot of bang for your buck. The membership is only $250 a year ($140 is tax deductable), you get a year's worth of events, including special performances, lectures, and workshops, culminating in the annual YPLC Fall Masquerade Gala. Attendees of the Masquerade have included Zac Posen, Uma Thurman, Georgina Chapman and Mark Ronson.

-

New York City Ballet Young Patrons Circle

The Young Patrons Circle at the NYCB gives members nearly unprecedented access to the ballet company, including meet and greets with the dancers and backstage tours. Memberships start at $350 and go up to $1,000 (which includes access to the Patron Lounge during performances, aka free champagne.)

The major social event of the New York City Ballet is, of course, the winter gala, which this year was attended by Erin Fetherston, Natalie Portman, and Candace Bushnell, as well as their Opening Night Gala. Admittance to these events, however, are not included with membership, so make sure you REALLY like ballet.

[Sarah Jessica Parker greets Valentino at the 2008 NYCB Opening Night Gala]

American Ballet Theater's Junior Council

Membership starts at $500 and gets you access to Dress Rehearsals both at The Met and in tour cities, entrance to The Belmont Room at The Met, workshops, etc. The Junior Council hosts a variety of social events throughout the year (past examples include a dinner at The Empire and a party at Forbes Galleries) , and members attend (at a discounted price) the Fall and Spring Opening Night Galas, as well as the Winter Event.

New York City Opera Young Patrons Circle

Only $250 gets you into the Young Patrons Circle at the New York City Opera, which hosts the annual Divas For Opera event, a favorite of Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord.