Diverse Turnout Makes YouthShines Art Auction a Success
BOSTON/South End - If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how many words might dozens of artworks by local kids express?
Quite a lot, if the expressions of many of the 200 attendees at Tuesday evening's 6th Annual YouthShines Art Auction - a fundraiser for the South End/Lower Roxbury Youth Workers' Alliance - at the Boston Center for the Arts were any gauge. And a diverse crowd it was.
YWA Executive Director Sandy Martin explained why. "Important from our perspective was not only the number of people but the mix of people. There were young artists with their families, as well as local residents from the neighborhood associations, and art lovers. The audience was inter-generational, and very mixed in terms of class, race, community. This is a rare mix for social events in Boston, and we're committed to creating this at our events."
Works from artists in their teens and pre-teens adorned the walls in the Cyclorama space while the center of the famously circular event facility was a buzz of activity as kids from the neighborhood mingled with adults in a convivial atmosphere - noshing on treats from area restaurants to the sound of jazz standards capably handled by Kabluna.
Attendees participated in a silent auction of the artworks for the first hour, and then a live auction of the top rated works was MCed by David Brown of WCVB-TV in the second hour.
Sophie Yon Gharbi, a YWA staffer, explained that "The purpose of the Art Auction is to raise money for our program. We are a coalition of youth workers and we have monthly meetings with the South End/Lower Roxbury youth workers that run the 40-plus youth programs in the area."
Those programs serve 5,000 children and teens from 14 public housing developments, and build cooperation and coordination between otherwise isolated youth programs, in order to provide the best possible supports and opportunities for all youth. The YWA believes that collaborations across various turf boundaries helps the kids stay safe - pointing out that the South End and Lower Roxbury were considered hotspots for violence, but that in the last two years shootings have decreased by 86 percent.
Martin concluded "The event was a huge success from our perspective. We showcased the artwork of over 125 young people (ages 6-21), who had the powerful experience of seeing their art hung in a renowned art venue, and learning that their creative energy can be a value to the community. The music and food were fabulous, the art activities gave everyone a chance to be creative together.
"The young artists and the art bidders love having the chance to meet each other. This event is a fundraiser for the YWA, but it is also a community-builder. It is rare for the beneficiaries and the benefactors to come together at an event such as this. It is rare in the South End/Lower Roxbury for the young people of color who live in the housing developments to meet the homeowners who live just blocks away. The YouthShines Art Auction provides that opportunity by bringing these diverse communities together for a common cause- to celebrate the creative energy of young people and be sure that we continue to create positive and exciting options for their futures."
The event was co-hosted by the Boston Center for Arts, Old Dover Neighborhood Association and the Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association.
For more information, check out the South End/Lower Roxbury Youth Workers' Alliance website.