Nebraska Artists Carry The Future
Sara Gilliam and I went to college together, we share a common BFF and we were pregnant with our first babies at the same time, so it’s safe to say we go way (way) back. Naturally, when I decided to feature Do Good Wednesdays on the site, I knew that I wanted to talk to her about the nonprofit upon whose board she sits, Carry The Future.
Sara got involved with Carry the Future shortly after its launch in September 2015. The organization was started to collect baby carriers to ease the journey of refugees even just a little bit, but their success has allowed CtF to broaden their efforts to include other relief items, including Finnish-inspired baby boxes. Sara has been to Greece on (largely self-funded) relief trips twice in the last year. She spent many long days meeting the ferries and personally distributing the relief items she has helped collect. Each time when she came back, she spread the word about what she was seeing, inspiring others to get involved.
That support morphed into tomorrow night’s pop-up gallery, Nebraska Artists Carry the Future, after some artist friends contacted Sara about ways they could help. Eventually, more than 30 professional artists signed on (check out the event web page, and the Nebraska Artists Carry the Future YouTube channel to learn more about them). I called Sara on Election Day to get more info (little did I know that our conversation would be the only bright spot of that day).
JGG: How did you recruit your artists and can I afford any of them?
SG: We started out with some really high-caliber, professional artists, and once people heard about who was participating, they actually contacted us to get involved. It was a real domino effect. We did turn some people down who might fall into the more hobby-arts realm. Not because we don’t support their work, but we wanted to focus on artists who are making a living from their art.
As for the price points: there’s a really big range. There are some higher dollar items, such as jewelry by Sidney Lynch, who is internationally known, and some paintings up to the $4,000 range because our goal is to raise money. But there are some really affordable things that would make very reasonably-priced, thoughtful Christmas presents. For example, Catherine Griesen is bringing her gorgeous handmade leather journals. We also have some really cool woodworkers and photographers who have done cards with their photographs on them. Most of the people we know don’t have a lot of money to spend on art, so we want to make it clear that there are a lot of options.
JGG: Are 100 percent of the profits from the event donated to Carry the Future?
SG: No. We’ve brought in a really spectacular caliber of artist, and we want this event to support them, as well as CtF. Artists are approached all the time to donate their work. And, you know, they want to. They have big hearts. But they also have to be able to support their families. Our artists will get 70 percent of the proceeds from the event and the other 30 percent goes to Carry the Future. All of our overhead is being covered by myself and the other event organizers and through donations.
JGG: Have you received a lot of support from local businesses?
SG: We have, but it’s come about in a really organic way. For example, Ann Alesio, who is a co-owner of Bella Spa, here in Lincoln, and I were having wine one night and she mentioned that Bella had discontinued carrying a particular line of makeup and wanted to do something with their remaining stock. Well, the women in the camps are just desperate for makeup. It may sound frivolous, but if everything you had was gone and you were living in a tent in 90 degree heat, wouldn’t being able to feel a little more pulled together and maybe use some tweezers give you a tiny bit of normalcy? So Ann donated the makeup then and there, and she has just kept giving. She arranged for us to have the event at the Lincoln Country Club, and Bella donated all of the food. Another example is Method Cycles and Craft House, which is donating a beautiful bike for our raffle.
JGG: What else can we expect tomorrow night?
SG: When the four of us who are organizing the event got together, we agreed that we wanted to create an evening that we would like to attend, nothing stuffy or exclusive but fun and exciting and accessible to all, including refugees and those who are sponsoring them. My international exchange student from Oman and her friends are doing henna painting. Children are welcome, people from the neighborhood, people who follow the artists, the non-profit community. We’re hoping for a very unusual and diverse audience.
Thanks so much to Sara for the 411. The GaGas and I will be attending Nebraska Artists Carry the Future tomorrow night (Thursday, 17.November) from 5-8 p.m. at the Lincoln Country Club and we hope to see you there!