What to do when a pandemic hits hard? Dig deep and go old school — but with a twist of the new.
That’s how Arts and Science for Southeast Arkansas’ Executive Director Rachel Miller described the decision to host a virtual online telethon instead of the center’s annual 300-guest gala and auction.
The “Heart for the Arts: ASC Telethon 2020” will livestream from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday on ASC’s website and social media.
All proceeds from the event benefit the Arts & Science Center’s education outreach programming and community projects at The ARTSpace on Main and The ARTworks on Main (opening in 2021).
A CHANGE OF HEART
“It was disappointing because we planned to hold the gala and auction in the new ARTSpace,” Miller said.
More than just showing off their new facility at 623 S. Main St. in downtown Pine Bluff, this event is ASC’s largest fundraiser and pays for its operating costs and programming.
“Without those we are taking a big [financial] hit,” and they aren’t alone, Miller said.
“Museums and arts and culture organizations across the nation have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
This year, ASC turned to a letter fund-raising campaign but looked around at other options.
“We noticed people glued to their phones,” so an idea started to take shape, Miller said. “We wanted a way to engage our supporters.”
Perhaps a Jerry Lewis-type telethon, without the bank of phones, but coupled with the best of today’s technology would work, they decided.
“This would allow members (and others) to see their membership in action, and introduce new people to our programming,” Miller said.
A CHANCE TO SHINE
In addition to the arts and sciences, ASC has an active and celebrated theater component. As well, it has long-standing relationships with musicians, dance performances and others.
The telethon format, Miller said, “will allow us to utilize our talented volunteers, as well as turn to our local community.
The majority of the artists hail from Jefferson County and/or Southeast Arkansas. ASC is so grateful for all of the participating artists. The diverse styles and mediums are stunning.”
Veteran ASC emcee Matt Soto will host the event.
Performers scheduled include: Damen Tolbert, saxophonist and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff instructor; Richard Bailey, trumpet player and chair of UAPB’s music department; a musical performance by White Hall Elementary School teachers; and The Boys, a singing group featuring Soto, Ben Trevino and Joel Anderson.
The telethon will also feature dancers from Mrs. Tana’s Dance Factory in White Hall, which recently placed third in a national competition, and ASC performing arts volunteers, including Celeste Alexander, Ryan Allen, Christian Feazell, Angelica Glass, Tiffany Lowery, Eleanor Pearl and Kasey Rowland.
This event will also include video tours of ASC’s new The ARTSpace and ARTworks on Main facilities, testimonials from community members, and the launch of ASC’s virtual art auction, which runs from Nov. 13-22.
“Even better, the public will have the opportunity to view the artwork in person while taking a small sneak peek at ASC’s new community gallery in The ARTSpace on Main,” Miller said.
ASC is working with the Department of Multimedia Communication at UAPB to execute this first-time event.
“We are very excited and feel quite fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with UAPB’s Multimedia Communication Department on this 21st-century take on the classic telethon,” Miller said. “Everyone could use a little razzmatazz right now!”
Information about the “Heart for the Arts: ASC Telethon 2020” and the online art auction is available at asc701.org or by calling (870) 536-3375.
Angelica Glass performs during the Arts & Science Center’s Razzle Dazzle in October 2019. Glass is one of the performers scheduled to appear during Heart for the Arts Telethon on Nov. 13-14.
(Special to The Commercial)