Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum June 2001

KCAC Forum Magazine June 2001 Volume 25 No 2


When it comes to charitable giving, artists can expect to be asked to donate work, just as printers are constantly asked to donate printing, lawyers are asked to do pro-bono work, and corporations are asked to underwrite projects. We aren’t asked this because what we do is of no value, rather just the opposite. Often it is the case, as in mine, artists aren’t in a position to give cash, but can give art. Each artist will have a unique and individual response to donation requests, but my personal experiences have been quite positive and professionally beneficial.

The very first time I donated a work to a local well-known arts organization auction, the piece was placed in the silent auction, and started the bidding at $100. Now. I will confess to feeling a bit offended, as I had priced it at $300, but I decided to be big about it and see what happened. It sold for $700 after a proper bidding war between several individuals. I had several people (one of them a significant local collector whose name you would all recognize) tell me “Congratulations, you did great!”

Shortly thereafter, I was approached by a prominent architect who had attended the auction and now wanted to show a client some of my work. He purchased a piece for that client, who turned out to be H&R Block. I believe none of this would have happened if I had not donated to that auction.

Recently I donated again to a local organization. The piece was placed in the live auction began at $300 which was my price on it, and sold for $650. The next day I received a call from a fellow who identified himself as “an unsuccessful bidder” from the previous evening, and wanted to commission something special for his disappointed wife. He walked in two days later with a check, and I am currently creating this new work.

Remember no one ever makes an artist contribute. It is a free choice. If you find an organization is not respectful of your work, or grateful for the contribution, by all means don’t donate again to that particular group. But it would be a mistake to take that isolated incident as an indictment of all charitable contributions. If you aren’t comfortable donating, don’t do it. If you believe in the cause of the organization, can handle the little bit of risk your work might not go for what you think it should, and trust that others will like your work, then donate.

What goes around comes around.