Written by: Izzi Diaz
The Academy Center of the Arts’ 2020 Virtual Art Auction closed this past Friday, September 18, 2020. The Auction featured a total of 124 pieces of both locally and regionally made artwork displayed in the Harrington Galleries, and was the first part of the multi-layered 2020 fundraising campaign entitled “The Academy Is…” .
The bidding began on the 4th of September during First Friday, a monthly occurrence held at the Academy. Over 100 Artists’ pieces were promoted almost strictly through email and social media over the two-week bidding period. By the time of closing, there were a total of 238 excited bidders who participated in the auction, raising their ‘virtual paddles’ with over 1300 bids.
That evening, during the final 30 minutes of the Auction, Academy staff ran a live-streamed countdown, highlighting art on display, messages from Ted Batt, Director of Visual Arts, and Geoffrey Kershner, Executive Director, and auction updates as the night went on.
The fundraising goal was originally set to an ambitious $90,000, and the winning bids totaled to $73,240 raised. The Academy will benefit from almost $50,000 of that total, with artists choosing to donate either 50% or 100% of the proceeds back to the Academy.
“The Academy’s Virtual Art Auction has been a huge success,” said Ted Batt, Director of Visual Arts. “I am grateful to all of the artists and the Lynchburg Community who have come out to support both the Academy and the artists by bidding on the 124 pieces in the show. With the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Art Auction was a critical fundraiser for the Academy but just as importantly, a way to support the artists in our community.”
Artists/creatives are among the most severely affected workers by the COVID-19 crisis. “Sixty-two percent have become fully unemployed and the average financial loss per artist/creative worker is $21,000,” said Americans for the Arts. “Nationally, they expect to lose $50.6 billion in income in 2020.”
Below is additional data from Americans for the Arts on the impact of COVID-19 on Artists/Creatives:
- 94% report income loss
- 79% experienced a decrease in creative work that generated income (61% a “drastic decrease”)
- 66% are unable to access the supplies, resources, spaces, or people necessary for their work
- And yet, 75% report their artistic practice has been used to raise morale, create community cohesion, or lighten the COVID-19 experience of the community.
“It is absolutely amazing that during a time like this, where artists are struggling as the sale of art continues to fall, that so many local artists would choose to participate and willingly donate a portion of their proceeds to our organization,” said Geoffrey Kershner, Executive Director. “We are thankful for the support of the local artist community, and will continue to support area artists however we can in the coming months.”
COVID-19 has taught us what the definition of community truly is, coming together in times of need. At the Academy, we believe that art unifies us, especially in times of separation. Now more than ever, we need that sense of togetherness. Hope is so vividly portrayed in all of the works of art that were auctioned, behind each piece is a story so intricately told by the artist. When in the midst of global uncertainty, we can find a sense of gravity in knowing that art is a vibrant constant that reminds us to cling to all the goodness in this season of life.