Airigami’s Amazing Air-Filled Undersea Adventure seen by 30,000+
~Lack of funding casts doubt on Balloon Manor 2016~
Rochester, NY – Rochester’s Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of AirigamiTM (“the fine art of folding air”) are “pumped up” about the success of their sixth Balloon Manor: The Amazing Air-Filled Undersea Adventure. An estimated 30,000+ visitors viewed the five-story sculpture made from more than 40,000 balloons by an international crew of 75 in just four days in downtown Rochester’s Sibley Building atrium (288 East Main St.) between February 23rd and March 8th.
“Our daily headcount indicates it was as high as 40,000, but it was impossible for us to officially document that over 14 nine-hour days,” says Airigami Founder and Creative Director Larry Moss. “We at least doubled last year’s attendance of 13,000, and we’re thrilled by the overwhelming response to all of our hard work.”
Balloon Manor crew members came from all over the country and from as far away as the Netherlands and Australia to work on the 50-foot-tall creation that depicted the world of Atlantis, complete with pirate ship, giant octopus, a mermaid queen and countless sea creatures.
“We couldn’t be happier with the success of this year’s incredible Balloon Manor,” adds Joseph Eddy, VP of WinnDevelopment, which hosted the event for the second year. “As we transform the historic Sibley Building into a new vibrant centerpiece of a revitalized downtown, events like these help us showcase our progress and recreate the same wonder and delight Rochester’s most beloved building once offered.”
That was certainly the case, judging from messages left in the Balloon Manor guest book.
“This event breathes life back into our city,” wrote Rochester’s Francesca Pullano. “One of the few times a year when everyone comes downtown!”
“I want to come back every day, except Christmas Eve, because I have to wait for Santa,” wrote Eli, age four. Julia, age eight, wrote: “My favorite part was the octopus, and the turtles. And the crabs. And the seagull. Pretty much all of it.”
The Manor also featured balloon sculptures inspired by drawings from school children, Pre-K through 6th grade, submitted through a Balloon Manor Drawing Contest in conjunction with The Strong National Museum of Play.
Rochester’s Center for Disability Rights, Inc. had a presence at this year’s Manor, which – like all previous Manors – was fully accessible. In fact, several groups from area nursing homes brought their residents to see the Manor.
“The folks came back from the trip and proceeded to have me print multiple pictures of themselves in front of the sculpture as well as pictures of the art itself to hang up in their homes and to send to friends and family,” says ElderONE Recreation Therapist Nicole Bolan. “They enjoyed pointing out various items in the design: the dog on the back of the boat, the details of the sailors’ clothes, etc. It became a giant game of Where’s Waldo?”
Visitors came from as far away as Ohio and Connecticut to see the 50-foot-tall creation – many with the sole purpose of viewing the Manor. An article in The Washington Post by journalist/crew member Julie Zauzmer helped to spread the word.
“We also had a great turnout for our Fifties First Friday: Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, and actually sold out the Popping Party – our only ticketed event – this year,” says Airigami Artistic Director Kelly Cheatle, who adds that up to 1,000 people watched as another 500 ticketed Poppers deflated Airigami’s Amazing Air-Filled Undersea Adventure this past Sunday afternoon.
All of the above would lead one to expect a Balloon Manor 2016, except for the facts about its funding – or lack thereof.
“Unfortunately, we just can’t afford to fund this public art out of our own pockets any longer,” says Moss, who estimates that the time and labor involved sets Airigami back thousands of dollars each year, with sponsorships being mostly in-kind. “We are a small art studio with big ideas and a world-wide reputation, but with no significant support from either government or the private sector for this project – not for lack of trying!”
Balloon Manors took a hiatus from 2009-2014 for this very reason (previous Manors took place in suburban shopping malls in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008), but Airigami thought that the move downtown to Sibley – and doing away with an admission charge – would appeal to funders who want to be associated with high-profile, family-friendly events in downtown Rochester.
“We’re hopeful that we will find funding for next year, because we love creating Balloon Manor as much as others love viewing it,” adds Cheatle. “Thank you, everyone, for making our 2015 Manor such a success!”
Balloon Manor 2015 was sponsored by Qualatex Balloons, The Sibley Building and WinnCompanies, Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, WHEC TV, Kids Out and About.com, City Newspaper, Yelp, Continental Sales, and Badfish Consulting.
More about Airigami: Rochester artists and Airigami partners Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle are world renowned for their incredible full-blown installations, whether it’s a giant Acrocanthosaurus for the Virginia Museum of Natural History, the world’s first piloted balloon sculpture (Fantastic Flying Octopus), or one of their many Balloon Manors. Airigami has earned a Guinness World’s Record, along with AP, CNN Headline, PBS and other international and national news coverage. They’ve also made multiple appearances on The Martha Stewart Show, Good Morning America, the Today show, and at the White House.
Media please note: High-resolution images, time-lapse video and more about Balloon Manor are available to press at balloonmanor.com/press. Interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be cheerfully arranged.