Over the next three weeks, I am helping out two different non-profit arts organizations with their respective fundraisers. It’s harder and harder these days for these types of organizations to survive; the little money people have available to give tends to go to more human service oriented orgs, and state and federal funding for the arts are being cut all the time. So arts organizations need to resort to creative fundraising to maintain operations.
There are essential differences in these two orgs and their events. One is a long-standing established organization (Lake George Arts Project, www.lakegeorgearts.org) with a proven signature event called the Black Velvet Art Party, that helps to fund LGAP’s art gallery. LGAP has two paid staff members and a relatively active volunteer board. The other organization is very new and struggling to stay afloat (Art in the Public Eye www.artinthepubliceye.com) and is putting forth a dance party event themed around the Rat Pack years. APE has no paid staff, and is only run by volunteers, most of whom are self-employed with their own demanding businesses, so needs of the organization are met sporadically due to the volunteers’ other life demands. I spent a very active year volunteering with Art in the Public Eye in many capacities, but had to step away for a number of reasons, mainly to address my own growth as an artist.
Both events charge admission, run silent auctions, seek donations from partygoers to help raise funds. Both organizations have crossover volunteers, who have mutual interests in both of these groups, since their missions are similar and important, yet their projects vary. There even has been a little attempt at symbiosis between the two groups; APE presenting LGAP’s public video project on APE’s own huge inflatable outdoor screen and projector. But which one survives over the long haul? There’s only so much money, time and energy on the part of interested supporters.
I can do only a little to help out and hope that others can do a little too. Maybe if all people interested in seeing arts and culture survive in their home towns, helped out just a little, these arts organizations would then stand a chance. I maintain that art, in all of its forms, is necessary to our culture and these homegrown arts organizations are the gatekeepers and barometers for what’s past, present and future in each region’s arts and culture.