The Parkersburg Art Center Raises Funds with “Pollock a Person” Campaign
The Parkersburg Art Center, along with many local arts and culture non-profits, has taken a financial hit during the pandemic. Unable to host exhibit openings, classes and workshops, in-person fundraisers, or private events – all of which contribute to the facility’s annual revenue – the art center’s staff and team of volunteers have had to get creative. While they would normally be gearing up for their ArtOberfest arts-focused street festival, the have come up with a new – and definitely messier – way to raise funds.
The result of numerous brainstorming sessions, the “Pollock a Person” campaign is inspired by Jackson Pollock, known for his technique of pouring or splattering liquid household paint onto a horizontal surface (‘drip technique’), which allowed him to view and paint his canvases from all angles. The style was also called ‘action painting’ because he used the force of his whole body to paint, often in a frenetic dancing style.
In the spirit of Pollock’s spirited artistic style, the Parkersburg Art Center has recruited twelve brave contestants to raise funds and stand in as potential canvases. On October 3rd (or, October 4th if it rains) the contestant who has raised the most money will be celebrated (because the PAC loves a good party) and then splattered with paint by their donors.
In an effort to benefit other local nonprofits who have suffered during the pandemic, funds raised above the initial $500 will be split 50/50 between the Art Center and the contestant’s nonprofit of choice.
We have to support one another and work together to make the Mid-Ohio Valley a place where future generations want to stay.
“Our goal was four-fold,” said Jessie Siefert, Managing Director of the Parkersburg Art Center. “We wanted to do something unusual and fun. We wanted to stay in the hearts and minds of the community. We needed to find a fresh way to stay afloat financially and we wanted to support other local nonprofits who are suffering financially due to COVID-19. Together, we are all better. We have to support one another and work together to make the Mid-Ohio Valley a place where future generations want to stay.”
Since the kickoff on September 1st, the campaign has raised nearly $8,000. Five of the twelve contestants are donating 100% of their funds raised to the PAC, while seven are also fundraising for a second nonprofit. Erin Augenstein is currently in the lead at nearly $2,000 raised.
“I appreciate the PAC extending the fundraiser to include the contestants choosing a second nonprofit to split the funds with one we reach $500,” said Augenstein, a Communications and Public Relations professional who also serves as the Executive Director of the Schrader Youth Ballet Company.
So far, Augenstein has raised at least $750 for the Ballet Company. “With the existing restrictions on gatherings, public performances aren’t able to be produced. This has severely limited the income that performing arts companies typically receive from ticket sales to meet basic operating needs,” she said.
Contestants have been enjoying the month-long opportunity to uplift the work of the Parkersburg Art Center and raise some funds. “I’ve quite enjoyed the FUNdraiser,” said Augenstein. “I’ve received donations from dear friends from all over the country – some who grew up in the area and others who just want to support the arts.”
“It’s been heartening to feel the support for the work we do for young artists who desire serious study, for our public arts audiences, and for those who understand that a successful community requires vibrant arts at its core,” she said.
Because she was the first contestant to reach $1,000, she was able to arrange for her children to be “Pollock-ed.” She gathered a few of her children’s friends and dancers from the Schrader Youth Ballet Company to paint them. This was one of several special challenges that determined who would be splattered in paint. Chris Gilmer, President of WVU Parkersburg, was the first to raise $250 and therefore was the first to get splattered with paint by donors.
With these basics covered, we can continue community art outreach, purchase art supplies for programs and do all of the fun artful things that people need and want.
The Parkersburg Art Center intends to use the funds raised to help cover general operating expenses such as heat, electric, staffing, and maintenance. “With these basics covered, we can continue community art outreach, purchase art supplies for programs and do all of the fun artful things that people need and want,” said Siefert.
In addition to the funds raised, Siefert said the Parkersburg Art Center is gaining new followers on social media. “This is so very helpful to a nonprofit because free advertising is something that we rely on heavily.”
The campaign officially ends this weekend, with the winner being announced on Sunday. Donations can be made on the PAC website by selecting which contestant you want to Pollock. Whoever that “lucky” person is, will become the final canvas.
“We have been blown away,” said Siefert, of the community’s support. “Our contestants have been amazing promoters and we are so very grateful for their efforts on our behalf. The generosity and support of this community continues to humble us.”