Under the motto „United in Diversity“, Gery Keszler will set the final chord with the 26th Life Ball on June 8, 2019: „These were incredible, fantastic and intensive years. We moved more than we had ever dared to hope for. I am so infinitely grateful. It is now time to bring this project to a good conclusion,“ said Life Ball founder and organiser Gery Keszler. The association LIFE+, which is responsible for the annual orientation of the ball, will continue to exist, says Keszler. „We will continue to stand up passionately against stigma and exclusion and show our colours“. In the balance of the Life Ball after 26 years there are almost € 30 million in donations for national and international AIDS aid projects.
Recalling the beginnings of the Life Ball, Keszler would like to thank the City of Vienna and the then Mayor of Vienna, Helmut Zilk, first and foremost. Addressing the mayor, who died in 2008, directly, Keszler said: „It was your strength and imagination that strengthened our back to tackle this project. You were an indefatigable ambassador for an open and tolerant Vienna, and the Life Ball is a lighthouse that can be seen all over the world.“ Now, more than 26 years later, it is time to break new ground. Keszler: „The framework conditions and circumstances have changed a lot over the last few years. We have achieved a lot in the fight against AIDS. AIDS has changed from a death sentence to a chronic disease. This success results in the paradoxical situation that the number of allies for AIDS aid projects is decreasing both internationally and nationally.“
Against this background, it has recently become increasingly difficult to win sponsors and donors for the ball. Keszler: „Today, awareness is simply different. We are now taking this into account.“ Nevertheless, there are great challenges – especially in Africa: „With the net profit of the 26th Life Ball, we will devote our energy to those regions where the problem is still acute and we can save lives. In Austria, excellent work is being done by organisations and the public sector. Therefore, there will be understanding for our decision to focus our support on international projects this year“. Numerous international personalities in the fight against HIV/AIDS will support the probably most emotional Life Ball in history on 8 June, including Hollywood star and amfAR ambassador Katie Holmes, Golden Globe winner and Oscar® nominee Keala Settle and burlesque artist Dita Von Teese. Andy Warhol muse Dianne Brill and Conchita will lead the final.
After almost 20 years, Missoni will once again host the fashion show at Rathausplatz – at the personal request of Gery Keszler due to the strong commitment of the famous fashion dynasty. The Life Ball team is expecting increased interest from their loyal community for this final act and has therefore announced that an additional contingent of tickets will be available from Monday 13 May. As the largest private donor to domestic organisations, LIFE+ ranks 16th among the most important fundraisers for HIV/AIDS: over the past 27 years, the private sponsoring association LIFE+ has been able to generate almost € 30 million for 170 national and international AIDS aid projects via the Life Ball. The ball was also successful as an economic factor for the City of Vienna: according to an IHS study, in the last ten years alone the ball has generated a gross value added of € 106 million for Vienna and paid around € 28 million in taxes and social security (IHS study). These effects were offset by annual support from the City of Vienna of around € 800,000.