Megan Foo's Blog

Sculpting Lives, Shaping Children's Futures Through Art: Art for a Cause Feature

Whether you’re a budding photographer who hopes to achieve gallery representation or a dedicated promoter who helps artists build presence in the creative sphere, setting up an art exhibition never ceases to be a fulfilling endeavor. Hosting an art exhibition offers an innovative way to not only enhance artist visibility, but also reach out to the wider community and raise awareness of charitable causes.
In 1933, a small group of philanthropists gathered in New York City to set up an “art for charity” exhibit to benefit the New York City Visiting Committee of the State Charities AidAssociation. Now, 80 years later in the same city, the nonprofits Givology, Do Good As You Go, and Colectivo TAN 473 have coordinated and successfully hosted a creative art exhibition – Art for a Cause – to encourage philanthropic action.
Art for a Cause aspired to inform the general public on education issues worldwide; all funds raised were donated to students and grassroots education projects in the developingworld. Featuring an eclectic synthesis of artwork from passionate local children in the programs Do Good As You Go and Colectivo TAN 473, Art for a Cause was replete with guest speakers, auctions, and an extended fostering of philanthropic values.
Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Q. Chen, Givology’s co-founder and president. One of the main organizers of Art for a Cause, Jennifer believes wholeheartedly that by making purchases of children’s photographsand paintings, art owners were not merely acquiring artwork, but were instead “buying the stories and creating the futures of children across the world”.
[b][i][font=" times="" new="" roman"]1. [/font][/i][/b][b][i][font=" times="" new="" roman"]How do you think Art for a Cause lives up to Givology[/font][/i][/b][b]’[i]s philosophy – “Give to Learn, Learn to Give”?[/i][/b]
[font=" times="" new="" roman"]Art for a Cause was a creative art exhibit event jointly organized by Givology, Do Good As You Go, and Colectivo TAN 473. [/font][url=][font=" times="" new="" roman"]Colectivo TAN 473[/font][/url] is one of our grassroots partners in Guanajuato, Mexico whose “Traveling Classroom: art on wheels” program Givology directly supports. Katie Clancy, the founder of Colectivo, was the one who connected Givology with Alice, the founder of DoGoodAsYouGo. All money raised was to go towards students and projects in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Ethiopia, where artwork and photography were created personally by local children in respective programs of DoGoodAsYouGo and Colectivo 473. We worked alongside our collaborators to inspire and enable our guests to support international travelers to "what what you know, to do good as you go" and make a difference in local communities during their travels. It is the perfect example of Givology working with partners with the same vision of making global educational impact while being 100% volunteer based. Even founders of like-minded organizations are learning from each other about different ways to structure “giving” through many creative programs and business models!
[b][i][font=" times="" new="" roman"]2. [/font][/i][/b][b][i]How do you think Art for a Cause will impact and mean a lot to children around the world?[/i][/b]
The children who created the art worked hours and days with volunteers from DoGoodAsYouGo and Colectivo 473. Their dreams are reflected in their art, and all the money raised goes to affirm those dreams. The exhibit was the market for their art. These children will be so inspired and motivated when they hear about how their own pieces of art sold to someone across the world for hundreds, if not thousands of dollar. In fact, one of the 17-year olds from Oaxaca, Mexico Alma “sold” her painting for $1,500 (shown below):
[b][i][font=" times="" new="" roman"]3. [/font][/i][/b][b][i]What was the most challenging part of hosting Art for a Cause? Any stories to share?[/i][/b]
Yes – a million thing went wrong in setting up the art gallery. We got the space donated to us from my company, AppNexus. The area is normally used as a café and auditorium. However, we had to transform it into a gallery without any nails, paint, or wall-damaging materials. Let’s just say that we spent 48 hours straight re-hanging photos that had fallen and re-iterating on the types of materials used. Luckily, my office is above The Home Depot…
Another story to share is about having kids at events. This was the first time we had to have a “kid friendly” area during our events. We cleared out an area with a row of couches, where there were plenty of snacks set up and crayon, paper, stickers, etc. By the end of the night, everything was covered in cheez-it crumbs, torn pieces of paper, and scraps of finger food. Moral of the story? We must have adult supervision for such an area, preferably someone with a booming loud voice.
Finally, we always had a lot of cooks in the kitchen when coordinating. We had to learn to give up responsibility and assign ownership of the art gallery program very early on. When it came to marketing, we needed to assign quotas that each party needed to hit. We could have done better setting expectations for all who were on the team much earlier on.
[b][i][font=" times="" new="" roman"]4. [/font][/i][/b][b][i]What was the most rewarding part of hosting Art for a Cause?[/i][/b]
When it all came together the night of. Imagine the confluence of the following: a live jazz band (George Coleman Jr) and delicious, beautifully catered food set up, and the panorama view of the artwork from hanging pictures to mounted canvases along walls, columns, and on tables. Plus, we had 200 people streaming in and out, laughing and mingling. The ambiance was frenetic and everyone was able to actually talk to one another about artwork and our programs’ mission, versus trying to talk over loud hip-hop music endemic to other fundraising events for younger demographics. Being on stage and watching everyone bid for the children’s artwork was also riveting – we all knew that the proud art owners were not just buying art, they were buying the stories and creating the futures of children across the world.

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