Tuesday, September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023

Treasure Fair fundraiser breaks previous record



With a goal of raising $55,000, ArtSpring’s recent Treasure Fair announced a record-breaking total of $67,346, making it the most successful Treasure Fair in the organization’s 23-year history of hosting the popular fundraising event. Organizers could not be more pleased.

“As a charitable arts centre that relies heavily on donations to support daily operations and sustain, develop and grow programming for our community, this flagship fundraising event is absolutely key in our calendar,” said executive and artistic director Howard Jang. “We couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful for the turnout, the positivity and the engagement this year.”

It is a sentiment that long-time Treasure Fair committee chair Catherine Griffiths shares. “There was a lot of excitement this year,” she said. “So many visitors, much less COVID anxiety, people wanting to be social and the quality of the donated items this year was extraordinary. It all factored in to build momentum.”

Noticeable elements that made a difference included the pre-bid gala event with the auction site going live at 6 p.m. in the evening rather than in the morning. The well-attended Saturday concert performed by charismatic Juno-nominated folk group The Fugitives reportedly added to the buzz, and an uptick in “Buy It Now” deals, where bidders pay 150 per cent of the stated value to lock down a favourite item, happened faster and more substantially than ever before.

Big ticket items, experiences and smaller special pieces were curated so there was something for everyone at any price point. The spotlight item this year was the baby grand piano evaluated at $12,000, selling to a bidder and now going to a loving new home. Trips, accommodations, concert experiences and wine collections all went quickly. High value outdoor furniture sets, interior furnishings and quirky décor items and collectables all found their audiences.

More than 140 donors of these treasure items and experiences stepped up this year. Each will receive a tax receipt for the winning bid on their donation. Griffith’s tireless volunteer committee, which has not rebounded to full capacity since the pandemic, invested hundreds of hours receiving, cataloguing, moving, storing, packaging, presenting and manning the website and exhibition space.

For the first time, the local Girl Guides manned the concession station as a fundraiser, offering visitors home-baked items and refreshments to enhance their Treasure Fair touring experience. This level of grassroots community connection is a priority to Jang.

“There are some misperceptions out there that ArtSpring shouldn’t need to organize fundraisers like this because we have massive government support, grant support or tax support to facilitate us bringing in off-island artists, and that’s simply not the case,” he said. “The majority of what we do is to facilitate community groups and local artists in presenting their work year round, and to bring artists from all over the world to engage and inspire our community. Our annual budget is very tight compared to similar community art centres in other jurisdictions, so everything helps.”

Some of the items that did not sell are stored and will be re-presented at next year’s Treasure Fair in hopes of connecting with the right buyer.

“On top of the money that was raised, we had people come back multiple times and genuinely express how much fun they were having,” said Griffiths. “Our committee worked hard but also had plenty of laughs too, which makes the Treasure Fair a winner across the board.”

With the results tallied, this year’s Treasure Fair surpassed 2022’s fundraiser by just $850.


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