post-interview for the art charity (1)

Conduced interviews with people who have organised charitable fund-raising events for people in Japan - asking them to share their experience, and to see where their motivation comes from. I hope the Q&A will provide evidence of one way in which art can truly impact social issues, not just through abstract ideas but as an impetus in connecting people, and helping those in need.

Art Action (AA):  
Why did you decide to work on fund-raising projects for Japan and why you decide to do it through art? *if you have previous experience in fund-raising through art, please include this experience
Nannette Vinson (NA):
The silent auction event was quite spontaneously decided upon. My friend and co-organizer Kaori Homma’s family were directly affected by the tsunami and earthquake.
We were frustrated being far away and feeling helpless to contribute. Using our art to aid in some way made sense to us and we felt others would feel the same way. I have experience organizing exhibitions and grant writing; this was my first experience fundraising.
AA: Who was involved in the programming and how long did it take to organise? How did you set the date?
NV: It took approximately three weeks and three people to organize. Kaori and I were the primary organizers. I did the majority of the work in Budapest and she organized on the UK side. I also have to mention David Wilkinson who was a great moral and technical support. It was hard work but completely worth the effort.
AA: Why did you decide the donation point?
NV: We asked many sources including the Japan embassy and the Japan Foundation before we decided on the Red Cross. I wanted to be sure the money actually reached the destination. Also, I’d like to mention that we did not accept money up front but got the majority of people to donate directly to the Red Cross and send us their e-receipts. It made it easier (and cleaner) for us and they got a tax write off.
AA: How did you attract people to support the project?
NA: A combination of the usual online invitation, Facebook, etc. but I believe the most important was sending personal emails and making telephone calls to contacts to get individuals there to buy work.
AA: What would you do differently if you could do it again?
NV: Well, having an extra week would have been helpful; we could have possibly connected with a greater number of people who would have attended the event. However, I think the fact we created this event quickly gave it a kind of momentum.
AA: What advice would you give to people working on similar projects?
NV: Stay positive and try to partner with the right organization(s) or people to help get the project finished. Also, think the event through to the end- who is responsible for making sure the donations /art are handled properly and get to the right place. Also, don’t forget to thank all the people involved. Try to rehearse the event to troubleshoot problems. Small details (for us) like bidding sheets with the images of the artwork on the sheet helped in making things go smoother.