Whether it’s invitations to gala dinners or silent auctions, fundraising and arts and culture are as synonymous as actors and the stage. Recognizing the power of the form, some event organizers are leveraging the arts to net cash for their cause. When you attend an event from either Pastels on 5th or Love Hope Strength you may not even realize you’re in the middle of a fundraiser. That’s the way they like it, each going about it differently to reach you and deliver their charitable message.
Denver’s Love Hope Strength uses rock and roll to engage potential bone marrow donors. Loveland’s Pastels on 5th leverages the community’s love of art to raise money for domestic violence prevention.
One Concert At A Time
Benefit concerts are nothing new. What is unique about LHS is tapping its captive and diverse audiences to ask them to get on the National Marrow Donor Program list.
"We were giving them a way to tangibly save somebody's life and affect the cancer community, which was just get your cheek swabbed” said Love Hope Strength Executive Director Shannon Foley Henn. “We go away and it’s not just we put a Band-Aid on a community and left, we taught the community that they can continue on using music and using arts in order to save lives.”
Aden Holt, whose friend James Chippendale co-founded LHS after a battle with cancer, has participated in three LHS musical pilgrimages. Some of those pilgrimages have been in extreme locales like Pikes Peak or even Mount Everest.
“It’s like walking on the moon,” said Holt of hiking some of the world’s highest peaks flanked by others whose lives have been impacted by cancer. “It’s a unique brand of people who are really focused on what it’s like to survive.”
Spinning Wheels And Getting Somewhere
Moved by his experience, Holt launched Cruiser Rocks, which capitalizes on two of young Denverites favorite things: bike riding and beer drinking, to benefit LHS.
Fun seems to be a pre-requisite given participants are playing games at parks and biking thru city streets, en-masse with music in tow. There's also the occasional pit stop at Denver watering holes.
“I would guess there is a percentage of people here that don ’t even realize the impact they are making, they just come to have a good time,” said Holt. “And that’s OK.”
The event has also resulted in 10 potential life-saving matches from Cruiser Rocks participants who volunteered to be added to the marrow registry.
Sidewalk Art For A Cause
“There’s no cute puppies or kittens involved with domestic violence situations,” said Pastels on 5th co-founder Vicky Bryant.
Domestic violence is a hard topic of conversation, it’s not warm and fuzzy and that can make it a challenge to engage would-be donors. Pastels on 5th sidesteps that conversation through vibrant, temporary, public sidewalk art.
“This is free, the only people who pay money are the sponsors,” said Bryant. “It brings people down, they may not even know that this is a fundraiser for Alternatives To Violence, they are coming down for the art, the beautiful weather, the music, the food.
Domestic violence survivor and contributing artist Alaina Ferguson said the event opens up dialog.
"They do feel more safe to talk about [domestic violence], said Ferguson. “I mean, I’ve been there and had fellow artists that I am working next to just kind of strike up conversations about it.”
At any of these events, if participants walk away with a deeper understanding of the cause, great, say event organizers. But if all they leave with is the memory of a good time that’s, OK too. Either way, they supported something greater than themselves.
Arts District is a collaboration of KUNC, Rocky Mountain PBS, and KUVO.