Usually I submit this column for the last Saturday of the month, but this month I asked if it could be printed in the earlier Parenting Page so that I could reach out to you all to tell you a little bit about our upcoming benefit that we have planned for Friday, Oct 25: Fall Into Art.
If you read these columns, you’re likely familiar with the work that Windham Child Care Association does -- providing support and resources for children, families and early childhood educators throughout the county. The organization started back in the early 80’s in an old barn in Guilford by a few smart ladies who cared about young children. As the world came to understand early childhood development and the relevance of out-of-home child care, WCCA grew and grew. Presently, we receive funding from a variety of sources to support the wide variety of work our staff (miraculously) accomplishes each day: the State of Vermont, private foundations, corporate sponsorships, donations from individuals, businesses and community groups, and last but not least -- fundraisers!
This will be the third year we’ve put on Fall Into Art. When I came on staff in 2009, there was transition going on with the organization and for a few years there was no major fundraising event. As the staff got settled, we brainstormed ideas for an event that would be profitable, align with our mission and be fun! We decided that gathering art from artists of all ages and opening it up to the community would meet all of these goals.
In the past, Fall Into Art was structured like a raffle. We framed 100 pieces of art and ticketholders drew a number. The moment of the ‘reveal’ - when you matched your number to the art on the wall -- was fun. The moments after were perhaps even more fun -- young children finding who ‘won’ their art and declaring that they were the artists, along with a little light-spirited, impromptu trading going on. This year, we’re shaking it up and organizing the event as a silent auction. This way, if you like what you see, it can be all yours.
We wanted this year’s event to grow and boy has it grown! The last two years, we chose to limit the size and types of art to make it all uniform. In some ways, it was interesting to see all of the art framed in the same sized black frame. But this year we’ve opened it up and the range of styles is phenomenal. The selection is so rich: photography, oil painting, watercolor, glassblowing, wood-turning, pottery, sculpture, illustration, handmade jewelry, handmade furniture and more. I recently got an email from an artist who would like to contribute a guitar with inlaid embellishments. (Thanks, Breeze!) We think there is something for everyone’s taste.
We also made sure there is something for everyone’s budget. There over 130 pieces ranging from $5 to $1300.
I’m personally looking forward to the mix of attendees: parents and grandparents (seeing their children’s work displayed alongside professional artists) mingling with professional artists (seeing their work alongside our community’s young aspiring artists).
When we began the planning process this year, we really wanted to strengthen our connection with local artists. It began with a meeting with the Arts Council of Windham County’s President, Doug Cox. He gave us valuable insight into artists’ point of view on events like these. We took much of his advice. (Thanks, Doug!) No longer were we just asking artists to donate art, but we created a series of events where their work as an artist was valued. We secured three downtown locations to show the exhibit in advance of the event. We also had the whole exhibit up as part of Gallery Walk last week. (The art committee at All Souls Church co-hosted the event -Thanks, Joy!) Finally, this year we have given all of the artists the option to name their minimum bid and to take home half of the final sale price if their art. So, Fall Into Art will be a win-win for everyone.
One final shout-out is to all of the local businesses that have said yes to supporting this event. Over 30 businesses have contributed in some way, many of them increasing their support from last year (Thanks, New Chapter!) This show of support for children in our community is extremely heartening to us.
I hope you’ll consider coming. Whether you’re interested in buying something or not, we think you’ll have a great time. Vermont Country Deli will be there catering the evening. Windham Wines will serve beer and wine and local band Jazberrry Jam will be performing. Our Board members will prepare delicious homemade desserts and the staff will organize a children’s art activity. Children’s book illustrator John Steven Gurney will be offering his hilarious and spot-on caricatures.
Indeed, the ultimate goal of this event is to raise money. But perhaps even more, we want to celebrate, with you. We’re all getting very excited for a fun-filled evening in which we come together in support of our community’s children and those who are helping to provide the best possible start for them.
Sarah DiNicola is the Communications & Events Coordinator at Windham Child Care Association and mom to Sylvia, age 4 and Nina, age 6. She welcomes comments, questions and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-5332 ext. 310.