Art Day of Giving: 24 hours to help Wichita art groups

02/23/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:34 AM

If you’ve ever wanted to bilocate, Friday may be one of those times.

A 24-hour period devoted to raising the profile of and money for arts organizations in Wichita is unleashing plans for flash song-and-dance mobs, open houses, concerts, audience-participation shows and games that will open for people a sampler box of the arts scene in Wichita.

Participants will be able to get the flavor of small groups such as the spirituals-singing ARISE, midsize organizations such as the Wichita Children’s Theatre & Dance Center, and big institutions such as the Wichita Art Museum.

They may hear the Hallelujah chorus rising up from the caverns of Towne East (Wichita Choral Society), see ballerinas descend the elevators of the Old Town Hotel (Ballet Wichita), or discover the gallery at Inter-Faith Ministries while catching the strains of Camp Allegro student musicians.

People will also have 24 hours – from midnight Thursday to midnight Friday – to make a donation to the arts organizations online, or in person or by check by Friday.

“It’s very exciting that we’re doing something major like this to create an awareness in the community,” said Monica Flynn, director of the Wichita Children’s Theatre & Dance Center.

A capacity for art

The ICT Art Day of Giving, or “ArtDOG,” came at the suggestion of the Knight Foundation of Miami. It invests in communities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers, including The Eagle.

The foundation is looking at how people give if they want to support nonprofits, and it’s finding that younger generations don’t write checks but give online, said Carol Nazar of the Wichita Community Foundation, which partners with Knight. So the Knight Foundation urged the Wichita Community Foundation to have a 24-hour period of giving, mainly online.

The Wichita foundation decided to focus the giving on arts organizations since they fell on hard times a few years ago, and 38 groups that meet the cultural-arts definition used by Wichita’s Arts Council are being included in the first ArtDOG on Friday.

Knight is providing $35,000 and the community foundation’s operating endowment is providing $25,000 to match at least some of the money that the organizations raise during the 24 hours.

“We encouraged them to have an event on the Final Friday, and they’ve come up with some very creative things,” Nazar said.

Twelve of the organizations also will receive a “golden ticket” worth $1,000 through drawings. The effort also seeks to build the capacity of the organizations, especially the small ones, to use social media to get a new audience of donors to support and give to the arts, Nazar said.

“What we’re asking people to do is step and lead for the arts. If they take the lead among their friends, their Facebook followers, their Twitter followers, we think others will follow. This is going to be a very immediate 24-hour period of giving.”

Many of the 38 organizations will also have special events Friday, many of them free, though donations, of course, will be accepted.

Spreading spirituals

While large arts organizations are obviously well-known, albeit still in need of financial help, smaller groups such as ARISE can get increased visibility through ArtDOG, said the group’s music director, Shawn Chastain.

ARISE is in its 25th year of realizing its full name: African-Americans Renewing Interest in Spirituals Ensemble.

“We are broadening our base to sharing that love of those spirituals,” Chastain said. Recently the group performed at a couple of venues at Wichita State, as well as at the River Festival and as an ambassador for Go Wichita on a trip to Kansas City. It also has collaborated with other community choirs. It wants to do more, and hopes ArtDOG will help it do so.

“I think the uniqueness that ARISE has is the music is gaining popularity itself,” Chastain said.

Sharon Cranford is a charter member who is still singing spirituals 25 years after Josephine Brown founded ARISE.

Story-tellers talk about the musical pieces and their historical context between songs, so audiences can learn about such things as the Underground Railroad, Cranford said.

“It is an opportunity not only to learn about this rich heritage of music but to share it with others,” Cranford said.

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