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Cultivating Curiosity

With an emphasis on exploration, fascination, and wonder, The Fifth Avenue Hotel presents elevated cultural and intellectual programs designed to cultivate curiosity and encourage discovery. 

On February 22, 2024, its inaugural program—a conversation between Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Margo Jefferson and Hilton Als, presented in partnership with the storied literary publication, The Paris Review—epitomized the type of experiences Joseph Vatter, The Fifth’s Director of Cultural Programming, aims to provide.

A Modern Salonnière

Approaching this initiative with a “quality over quantity” mindset, Vatter joined The Fifth as part of the hotel’s pre-opening leadership team, the only person among them without a career background in luxury hospitality—an intentional choice. Over the past 15 years, Vatter has held positions with prestigious international art galleries leading a robust schedule of global events. His work includes countless client development efforts, public programs, site-specific projects, and performances, and he has contributed to significant exhibitions by some of the most renowned artists of our time, often in collaboration with the world’s preeminent museums and cultural institutions.

His unique background and perspective set The Fifth’s programs apart from any other venue on Earth.

Vatter is confident and uncompromising in his standards. “I don’t care for fads,” he said. “What we do here tells the world who we are and what we think is worthy of recognition and support. We have the ability and privilege to contribute to the legacy of artists, writers, musicians—to their life’s work. We’re incredibly fortunate.”

Reflecting on his debut event, Vatter shared, “That evening was so special to me. A salon with the Review was the first concept I thought of when I walked into the hotel—a construction site at the time. I was immediately inspired; it felt right. To see it realized in a way that was much more substantial than I originally imagined was very rewarding.”

The Guest List You Want to Be On

“When I begin to conceptualize an event, I first ask myself whether I’ve ever been to anything quite like it. I don’t really start working until the answer is ‘no.’ I want you to hear about it later and regret not going. I strive to incite jealousy,” he shared, laughing. “It is exceedingly rare for the Review to hold an interview of that type before a live audience. If you were there, you were one of a handful of people in the world privy to what will end up on the proverbial cutting room floor.”

The momentum shows no signs of slowing. The morning before the opening of Frieze Art Fair’s New York edition, The Fifth presented “The Art of Collaboration,” a breakfast and panel discussion exploring the nuanced relationship between art collectors and art dealers in partnership with Artlogic on the occasion of the technology titan’s 30th anniversary. This event attracted nearly 200 guests and featured Frieze’s Director of Americas, Christine Messineo, among other luminaries of the industry. Later that evening, The Fifth co-hosted a party with Frieze and High Line Art in celebration of the premiere of a new performance by artist Matty Davis.

The following week, The Fifth welcomed “The Enduring Legacy of Lee Krasner,” an illuminating conversation in tandem with Kasmin Gallery, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the occasion of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). Too, a conversation between photographer Alanna Airitam—whose work is a prominent element of the extensive art collection of the hotel—and Dr. Rebecca Senf of the Center for Creative Photography during AIPAD: The Photography Show shed light on the artist’s complex thesis.

Looking ahead, ambitious programs in partnership with revered institutions including The Metropolitan Opera and Rhode Island School of Design are within sight.

As one patron remarked, “The Fifth is the hotel of the art world.”

Lasting Relationships

“They’re not simply one-off events; they’re partnerships,” Vatter said definitively. “The people and organizations we choose to work with are those that we consider to be important to their discipline’s canon and aligned with our values. These are relationships we intend to foster.”

Indeed, that first program continues to resonate beyond a single night. The evening’s dialogue will contribute to a legacy-defining feature on Jefferson to be published in the Review as part of its “Writers at Work” series, which The New York Times has lauded as “the most remarkable interviewing project we possess.” Shortly after, the hotel hosted celebrated author Tobias Wolff, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Review’s annual gala, for which The Fifth was on the Benefit Committee.

These relationships also impact the hotel’s bottom line. As a VIP partner of Frieze New York, the hotel attracted attendees and exhibitors of the distinguished art fair. An evergreen package including insider access to Fotografiska—the renowned Swedish photography museum’s New York outpost—has been among its most successful.

Beyond Discourse

While not every event at The Fifth aims to be profound, they all strive to be special.

The spring equinox was marked by a wellness experience in partnership with luxury yoga and meditation center, Humming Puppy—an evening sound bath and lecture led by Myda El-Maghrabi, an expert on the subject. An intimate floral design master class with FLOWERBX, a darling of the fashion industry whose top clients include Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Tom Ford, followed shortly after. A guided tasting hosted with small-batch tequila producer Casa Dragones, led by renowned sommelier and tequila expert Sandra Fernández, is upcoming. A recurring live music series is soon to premiere with a performance by acclaimed singer-songwriter Liam Forde.

“I’m fun, and I love fun! I’m a former party girl,” Vatter jokes. “For me, a perfect program achieves a few things: it is inspiring, engaging, and entertaining. You left with something you didn’t have when you entered. You learned something and had a good time. What more could you want out of an evening?”

To inquire about Cultural Programming at The Fifth Avenue Hotel, write to experiences@thefifthavenuehotel.com.

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