In the latest issue of artnews Sue Gardiner looks at the Art for a Cure auction held in Auckland arranged by the Breast Cancer Cure Trust. While it was successful, she says: “It was one, however, in an increasingly packed calendar of charity art auctions being held in Auckland, prompting discussions that, with so many options, perhaps the charity art dollar is being spread too thinly. Is there charity art auction fatigue out there?”
We also think it's time to look at the impact of charity art auctions on artists. Many, and especially those who are asked time and again, are tired of being the first port of call whenever there is a need to raise funds for a worthy cause. It's not because they don't support the cause or buy into the culture of giving, but rather because they believe charity auction organisers could ask others to stump up for a change.
An Auckland-based artist with a long history of willingly donating artworks to a local primary school for its annual art auction (his children attend the school) believes the organisers could also target parents to donate other forms of expertise to be auctioned. For example: a lawyer could donate the expertise and otherwise billable time required to set up a family trust; a dentist could offer a year's dental work; a landscape architect could donate time to design an inner city garden or courtyard; and so on. There are many services that could be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder on the night. And let's not forget that in the case of the school's annual art auction the organisers could invite parents with art collections as well as artists to donate a work to the fundraising campaign.
Image: Peter Stichbury, Bic Runga, 2009, acrylic on linen, donated to the Cure for Cancer auction, Auckland, October 2009