An artist displays his work at the Midsummer’s Eve Auction while Brian Martin and Camillia Courts emcee the event, which raised $19,000 for the Vernon Public Art Gallery. (Pete Solymosi photo)

Support shown from home at Vernon’s virtual Midsummer’s Eve

Unprecendented event raised more than $19,000 for art gallery

Despite going virtual due to COVID-19, a major annual fundraiser drew up exceptional support.

The Vernon Public Art Gallery’s unprecedented 34th annual Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts online art auction raised $19,500 July 15.

Both the silent and live auction event saw registered participants bidding on donated work by renowned Okanagan and B.C. artists.

“It was a great opportunity to hold a safe, socially-distanced gathering and see all the support for the art gallery,” VPAG executive director Dauna Kennedy said. “Both groups and individuals registered for the live event and we received a lot of positive comments. Considering we were all new to hosting this type of event, we are proud we managed to do something new and exciting.”

Ticket holders had the opportunity to bid on nine out of 44 paintings at the live auction, which was broadcast live via online channels on July 15. Among the nine live auction items, Rick Bond’s painting, Paris Nights, ended up receiving the highest winning bid of $1,200, while Gabrielle Strong’s Emerald Coast III sold for well over its fair market value of $750 in the silent auction.

“There were people who were willing to pay above and beyond, and those extra dollars go such a long way,” said Kennedy, adding those who bid over fair market value receive a charitable tax receipt for the difference.

But the funds raised are far from what the event normally draws. Last year’s Midsummer’s Eve raised $58,000.

READ MORE: Vernon art gallery fundraiser draws sold-out crowd

Operated in the same vein as a mini telethon, Beach Radio morning show host Brian Martin and his partner, Camillia Courts, kept the action flowing, along with Kennedy. Besides the auction, live music was performed by band Virgil Caine. Bidders also had the opportunity to enjoy a catered at-home picnic supplied by Gumtree and Uprooted Catering.

Behind the scenes, VPAG board member Shell Duggan and long-time supporter Sarah Kennedy took the lead in helping to organize this new take on Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts. Dauna says it wouldn’t have been possible without the technical support provided by the gallery’s summer students as well as Sproing Creative and photographer Peter Solymosi. Participants were also able to interact by posting comments to the organizers and with one another.

“It was fun seeing the people committed to get last their last bids in. It was also great to see some new names among those who were bidding,” said Kennedy.

With the 2020 Midsummer’s Eve now wrapped up, the VPAG continues with its programming and exhibitions as it looks into the future of what can be done under the circumstances around COVID-19. The gallery is also actively involved in planning and development for the new Cultural Centre.

“It’s really important for us to keep on track and move forward as we look to build this new facility. We look forward to working with all partners in making the Cultural Centre a home to support the economy, the community, and the arts for years to come,” Kennedy said.

Visit https://www.vernonpublicartgallery.com/ for more information.

READ MORE: Kelowna artist’s pandemic reflection on display at Vernon gallery


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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