I am a local working artist who has been a participating member of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild since 2003. I always appreciate the volunteer efforts of AAI and the many nonprofit organizations that provide services to our community.
Today, however, I am writing with deep disappointment in the handling of the recent Eye event raffle. I felt the supportive spirit of the raffle in prior years was absent, and proper stewardship of the talent and labor that was so apparent in the outstanding art was missing.
I was told a local innkeeper purchased $800 worth of tickets and won about 18 of the 50 original artworks. At some point, the announcer stopped announcing the artist,
artwork and winner. The crowd was virtually left out of the excitement and it was unclear when the raffle was over. The piece I entered disappeared in the blink of an eye.
I was among many participating artists and event attendees who left discouraged over what had transpired.
I wrote a letter to the new AAI president the day after the event, stating my disappointment with how the raffle was managed. In her response, she did not address my concerns, but instead suggested I volunteer at events or join the board. I was saddened that my questions regarding a more equitable raffle were disregarded and apparently not worthy of serious consideration.
This is a legitimate concern and, because the Eye event is a fundraiser, limiting the number of tickets purchased is not the solution. My suggestion, to preserve the community spirit of the raffle, is to have a cap on the amount of artwork that can be won by one individual. It is a simple and fair solution.
I am now left questioning what values are guiding the decisions made by the current AAI leadership. Why did the AAI and the business owner feel it was acceptable for one person to win almost 40 percent of the artwork? What is the real purpose of this event? Is it simply a fundraiser? Or is it a celebration of camaraderie for the artists and the community? It used to be the latter.
I wish the AAI board success and hope it respects its responsibilities, which includes avoiding a repeat of this year’s event. Maintaining a financially sound event is equally important to being responsive to AAI’s membership and honoring our community spirit.