It is that time of year again. When us artists get calls from members of non-profit organizations asking us to donate art for their fund raisers. My friend and fellow artist, Jennifer Cavan just blogged about it. And I turned her comment section into another blog. Not really fair so I am posting my comment here regarding donations of art. I think it is long over due for us artists to rethink this giving of our wares.
One of the art magazines I read had an article a couple years back about the harm done by the silent auction. Bidders and non-bidders get to see that your $500 piece went for $50 and ergo it lowers the value of your work. In small communities such as Angel Fire some collectors, knowing you will donate to various non-profits, do not buy your work from you or your galleries. I suggested to a couple organizations that I would donate if they went to a mystery auction format where nobody knows what was paid for a piece. They said it was too much trouble. Then donating is too much trouble for me.
I totally x'd off one non-profit when I had quietly said no because of financial considerations that year and the askee said, "Come on, it is not as if we are talking real money here!" It is real money to me especially if I am heading into a fair with only a limited amount of work because of the cost of supplies and health concerns.
And just how much support do we get from those that demand (they don't even politely ask anymore - we are expected to give and they are not above using guilt trips) our support? MFAF has only put one AF artist on a poster of theirs in all the years of their existence. The library, for which we have painted bird houses and garden pails as well as donated, has moved their big fund raiser event to the same weekend as Artsfest which means none of their members can attend our event, and we are both fighting over volunteers. They haven't gotten that no artists can attend their event either. And we are big buyers of trash and used books.
I have noticed that some of the non-profit committee members actually visit our fairs and take notes about donations they would like. I have gotten calls after Artsfest asking for the donation of specific pieces. One visitor to Artsfest last year actually asked, in front of other customers, if I didn't sell a certain piece he loved was I donating it to MFAF so he could bid on it. I am afraid I was totally tharned. How on earth do you respond to that? I don't know if any MFAF people even buy my work ever! The person calling me last year was not even aware I am a painter these days.
Tip for all non-profits reading this: The more money we make as artists the more we are willing to donate. And we tend to donate to the groups that reciprocate by supporting us as artists or our art organizations. This means that one of my donations goes to CASA in Albuquerque. Their volunteers man Rio Grande shows and booth sit for us artists and buy our work. This is a two way street. And I am frankly rather frustrated at it only going one way. BTW, as Jennifer covered, we don't get this as a tax deduction, thank you GW.