BY KRISSI HUMBARD — Art Works Now wants you to make the art, see the art, be the art at their fundraiser this Saturday. Dress as your favorite artist or work of art and raise money for area children at the annual Come As You Art Fall Fundraiser.
The art party is Art Works Now’s main fundraiser for the year, raising money for their scholarship program. As part of the organization’s mission to ensure that everyone, especially children, can benefit from an education in the arts, Art Works Now established a scholarship fund which provides over $60,000 in scholarships to area children throughout the year.
Barbara Johnson, founder and executive director of Art Works, said that growing up, her family could never afford summer camp. But, she wondered, if a place like Art Works Now had existed then and offered scholarships, “How much sooner would I have fallen in love with art?”
There are 23 children in the Art Club After School program, and at least six of them are on scholarship for the full school year, Johnson said, adding that there were close to 400 kids in their summer camps, with over $30,000 worth of camp time given in scholarships.
“Art, having access to art, changed my life and gave me a passion which I’ve had for close to 50 years, after discovering it as a kid,” she said. “It’s given me a reason to live and thrive and grow and I see that in our kids every day. One of the most rewarding things in my life is to see our kids creating, having access to their voices and using their voice.”
The nonprofit has held the party on the property for the last four years, but this year’s fundraiser is extra special, Johnson said, because it is the first in their new building. “We feel like we’re home. It’s really meaningful to have our first official fundraiser here, in the building,” she said.
The new space has allowed the organization to expand its programs. They offer programs like Art Club After School, Toddler Time, and camps when school is not in session that are focused on integrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and social justice for kids and teenagers. There are also new programs designed to celebrate the creativity of everyone, no matter their age, like the intergenerational art studio, pottery classes for adults, unWINEd Wednesdays and the Hyattsville is Home weekly program for senior citizens.
“We’ve only really just begun to live out the possibilities in this space,” Johnson said.
The fundraiser will feature live music by the Rockville Swing Band and accompanying swing dancers; food from area restaurants like Brookland’s Finest, Rocklands Barbeque, Pizzeria Paradiso and Chaia DC; live and silent auctions; hands-on art activities; and an open bar serving bourbon tastings, craft beers, and cocktails.
Auction items include gift certificates to area businesses and restaurants, art from local artists, tickets to a show at Woolly Mammoth, skydiving lessons, a week’s vacation at the home of architect Mark McInturff — who designed the Art Works Now building in Hyattsville — in Neavitt, Md., sports tickets and more. Items can be bid on online in the silent auction now.
“We’re creating a fun event — and it’s going to be amazing,” Johnson said, but she added, the reason for the party is the kids, to make sure that kids have access to art, no matter their financial situation. “It’s the light in one kid’s eye,” she said, “that’s what I’m pushing for.”
The Come As You Art Fall Fundraiser will be Oct. 14th from 6:30-10 p.m. at Art Works Now, 4800 Rhode Island Ave. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased here.