Written by McKenzie Gritton // Photography by Brehmer Photography
On Saturday, February 27, for the fourth year running, the Brooklyn Arts Center hosted Encore Magazine’s 2016 Best of Wilmington Awards, A Space Invasion. The Port City’s iconic, 4th Street church was overrun by Wilmington’s finest—450 people, including nominees, bands, comedians, and various space invaders of Wilmington dressed up in their most out-of-this-world attire to celebrate the city’s best and to dance the night away. The proceeds of this fantastic, annual event went to support DREAMS of Wilmington, a fabulous local, nonprofit organization that provides arts education to under-privileged children.
Wilmington’s wildly popular comedy troupe, Pineapple-Shaped Lamps, once again played host for the event, quickly setting the tone for the evening with quips and jokes and skits alluding to sci-fi’s finest—David Bowie, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Purge, and many more—sticking to the evening’s theme “2016: A Space Odyssey: Invasion of the Trophy Snatchers.” The Pineapple people dressed in costume to the moon and back, were accompanied on stage by The Midatlantic, who played for the crowd dressed as Men in Black.
With no aliens to fight or fear, the band provided the vibe, playing awesome music and keeping everyone grooving and moving. In the moments between songs, the Pineapple-Shaped Lamps entertained the crowd, read raffle numbers, and announced the Best Of Winners. Throughout the proceedings, more than 25 local restaurants donated food for the evening and the BAC cash bar was humming.
Many of the 450 in attendance were dressed to impress in outer-space outfits ranging from robots to aliens to cartoon characters to sci-fi movie stars. There was lots of competition in the room, but the crowd cheered for their favorite, creative-costume contestants, and the MCs crowned the best out-of-this-universe style.
The 2015 Best Of winners collected their prizes and had their photos taken by event photographer Chris Brehmer Photography. Brehmer’s photos were then projected on the BAC cathedral ceiling, an awesome way to feature on our Best Of local businesses. “I’m happy to celebrate all of Wilmington and to shine a light on local businesses, and I feel honored that DREAMS makes it happen” says Shea Carver, Editor-in-Chief of Encore Magazine. “Children in the arts are lucky to have them as a non-profit. The arts in our country and in our community aren’t taught or focused on enough in school.”
DREAMS of Wilmington participated in the Best Of Encore Awards for the second year in a row. As per their mission statement, DREAMS is a nonprofit “dedicated to building creative, committed citizens, one child at a time, through providing youth in need with high-quality, free-of-charge programming in the literary, visual, multimedia and performing arts.” This year, DREAMS truly outdid themselves. The BAC was transformed into an outer-space dance club, with popular sci-fi movie posters, planets hanging from the ceilings, multi-colored lights flashing and blinking, and banners decorating the stage and the balcony railing. “The students make all the decorations, and they’re able to sell their work during the event,” says Blaire Brown, office manager at DREAMS. “Our masterpiece was the DREAMS banner, an entire mosaic class worked together to create it. That is what DREAMS is all about, bringing the under-privileged kids of our community together and allowing them to have an outlet to be creative.”
With the help of donations, a small army of volunteers, and the dedication and hard work that DREAMS put into the event, made it possible for the community to enjoy a spectacular evening of entertainment at the BAC. “There is just not a lot of opportunities like this in Wilmington for nonprofits, large businesses, and small businesses to come together and benefit from one another,” says DREAMS Executive Director Matt Carven. “It’s really a beautiful thing. Multiple sectors and the downtown area coming together.”