Archive for Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Floats Your Boat believed to have raised record amount for Van Go program

June 17, 2012


Lawrence artist Stan Herd paints during Van Go's What Floats Your Boat fundraiser. Herd then donated the painting to be auctioned off at the fundraiser, which raised an estimated $100,000 for the program.

Lawrence artist Stan Herd paints during Van Go's What Floats Your Boat fundraiser. Herd then donated the painting to be auctioned off at the fundraiser, which raised an estimated $100,000 for the program.

Hailey Freese owes much to Van Go, a local arts-based, job-training program that helps at-risk youths.

Freese, who is 18 years old, said the program taught her responsibility, determination and teamwork. She gained confidence, work experience and a family of friends.

“It has changed my life,” she said.

It was for the Van Go program that about 550 people gathered Saturday night at Clinton Lake Marina. Eliza Nichols, event organizer, guessed that the event had raised a record $100,000 in funds.

At the event, called What Floats Your Boat, organizers auctioned off 22 different items, ranging from paintings to parasols, bird baths to benches.

“I really, really like this event because it’s about the community more than it’s about Van Go,” Freese said. “It’s about getting people together and supporting a good cause.”

Program participants built and painted the majority of the items, with some selling for as much as $4,100. Freese said that seeing how much people are willing to pay for art provides a boost of confidence.

“It’s really cool to see your artwork being sold for that much money,” she said.

While program members made many of the items, others were donated, such as a piece painted during the event by local artist Stan Herd.

Herd said that he was glad to help a program that gets youths in touch with their artistic sides.

“I am amazed at all the things Van Go does,” he said.

Community donations did not stop at auction items. Local Burger donated vegetarian food for the meal, and stores like Kohl’s and Best Buy provided employees as some of the 50 volunteers who worked the evening.

All of the money raised goes back into the program, located at 715 N.J. Van Go currently serves 22 people ages 14-21. All participants either live below poverty, have mental diagnoses or are special-needs students. Much of the program focuses on woodworking, painting and mosaic creation. Van Go, which is in its 15th year, provides a social worker as well as a creative director to help participants and direct them in the creation of their art.

Freese said the program teaches teamwork and how to give constructive criticism. Participants often work in teams, and those who stand out become team leaders. Freese, who has participated in the program for two years, is one of these leaders, something she says she will put on her resume when heading off to Johnson County Community College next year.


bluedawg79 6 years ago

Small correction. It was Kohl's and Best Buy employees who were among volunteers at last night's event. They did an amazing job and we couldn't have had such a successful evening with out them. Thank you to ALL the volunteers!

woodscolt 6 years ago

Where do these record profits go? How much are these young people paid for their pieces? I attended the event and would have to be concerned that they may be getting a false impression of what the art work is really worth. Its sorta of an artificial world at Van Go. My concern is that when their eligibility in this art program expires, where does that leave them when they are out on their own. They keep making the stuff they were directed too by Van Go and all of the sudden it doesn't sell for a fraction of what it did at an event like this. What sort of a backlash might this cause these kids? Hopefully they are learning that the real benefit of their experience with Van Go is just that, the experience, and not necessarily the art work. What is the percentage of these people who actually go on to make a living creating more of what they did at Van Go? What percentage of these kids just get set up for a huge fall when they try to continue their art work on their own? Just a few questions I pondered while at the event.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

Our son was in this program. He learned a good work ethic by being in this program. He has a day job, but does all kinds of art on the side. He was never disillusioned about the prices that were charged for the art. He realized the need for money to keep the program going. It also made him generous about fund raising in general.

kansasrose 6 years ago

Thank you, Tomatogrower for bringing up a great point; the point about your son understanding the importance of fundraising for agencies like Van Go. Great comments.

woodscolt 6 years ago

Great!!! It sounds like your son benefited from the experience more so than the actual final product. As a secondary education art teacher I dealt with many young people that would qualify for a program such as Van Go. My students would produce some of the most hideous projects but when they were finished they would give them to their (usually single) mothers To the parent it was about "Oh you did this for me?" and the tears would flow. There weren't any newspapers, there wasn't a single red cent exchanged, no public fanfare, no businesses benefiting from a photo op or tax deduction .I was able to get the kids to come to class because they were committed to doing something for their parent(s). Their benefit was what they learned through the process and that they came to school nearly everyday and gave their other teachers the chance to teach them as well. While you may take my comment as criticism of Van Go, remember they were in the form of a question. In the case of Van Go, you can't say "we are not going to carry on because of the chance that we won't touch every young person who comes through our program, but rather, we are willing to risk that even if we only help one kid. I just think that the effectiveness of a program such as Van Go depends on never muddying the water on who the real benefactors should be . The event this weekend seemed it could be interpreted to border on whether the real deal was amount of money made, the photo ops for those who donated , or that Van Go was actually bigger than the kids they are trying to help. Who was the real benefactor of this event?

kansasrose 6 years ago

Both of my kids were artists at Van Go. Neither of them had a "huge fail" when they went out on their own. One of them graduates in the fall with a BFA from a well known art school. The other is working on her own and saving up for nursing school. So, no..... way off..... if my two kiddos 'got it' and were not 'let down' imagine all of the others just like them! Van Go is one of the most amazing agencies in Kansas. Both of my kids learned how to work for themselves and with others. They learned how to be proud of the work they produced. They learned how to get along on the job. They learned how to work as a team, how to appreciate and produce art. You are selling the artist apprentices, short.

Deb Engstrom 6 years ago

My son participated in the program and is not an artist at all. He did get some art skills, but mostly he got self-esteem, good work ethic, positive role models, and some spending money in high school. Van Go is a unique program and we are so fortunate to have it in Lawrence.

overthemoon 6 years ago

Oh.... You mean the arts and art education might provide those skill said to be lacking in the work place?? Wow. Like exposing kids to art may make them more engaged and focused adults? Really? So can we suppose that perhaps the support of the arts by taxpayers actually benefits society as a whole?? Who would have thought that?? So maybe the Arts help people to become better people, able employees, better parents. Imagine that.

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