Art and charity work crisis due to lockdown

Art and charity work crisis due to lockdown

158th Blog – Art and charity work crisis due to lockdown

Over the past couple of years all charitable organisations have suffered as people just haven’t been putting their hands in their pockets and donating to good causes in general. It is the small local charities which have probably seen the greatest demand on their services and ironically, they have also experienced the largest reduction in donations.

According to an article in the Guardian newspaper – see the full text at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/12/devastating-loss-funds-uk-charities-count-cost-covid

“Analysis in June by independent charity Pro Bono Economics predicted a £6.4bn loss of income over the six months to December 2020 for the UK’s 170,000 charities, leaving one in 10 potentially facing bankruptcy. Smaller, local charities are especially exposed to the crisis.”

As an artist I am aware of the powerful effects that art has on all our lives and have used my artistic abilities to support many charities over the years. The fact that people have purchased my work has enabled me to make both direct and indirect contributions to my favoured charities.

Every year I have taken part in at least six art exhibitions as well as getting involved in fund-raising initiatives. All of this has been both helpful for the charities and amazing for me. I do love feeling that I have helped people whenever I can.

In recent years I have felt honoured to be asked to participate in charity fund-raising events by using my art. For nearly 10 years now I have annually given a chunk of money to the charity group Action on Podoconiosis.

This amazing little charity has done so much fantastic work to help people in Ethiopia understand and cure this condition, which resembles *Elephantiasis but which, unlike the latter, is totally curable. To find out more about this amazing little charity click here: https://actiononpodo.com/

When I first got involved with them, I produced artwork using an outline of the sole of a human foot filled in with doodles and colours. I continue to sell smaller versions as bookmarks even now.

When I felt I had exhausted that idea and my audience wanted something new, I decided to donate a large percentage of my annual takings from all my artworks and send the donations directly to the charities. Sadly, the amount I send this year will be less than last year due to Covid-19. I sold very little artwork during 2020/21 but I will send as much as I can as I know how just every penny helps.

Looking back over the past 10 years I have been very fortunate to be involved with many different charity events. The 2016 Surrey Hills Cow Parade was a fantastic fund-raising event for which I decorated a large fiberglass cow, called Jess. Jess was auctioned off at a dinner at Sandown Park racecourse and from memory she raised around £2,500 which was amazing. I also decorated a smaller cow, who we named Mini Moo, which the team took with them on their advertising rounds. I was able to buy her back after the event was over, adding more funds to the pot.

As a result of taking part in the Cow Parade, I was approached by a member of Hazelmere Town Council to decorate first a ‘hog’ and then the following year a giant ‘hare’. The amount raised over two years for these two sculptures was in the region of £5,000 and I got to meet some lovely people who I am still in touch with today.

The last event I was involved with was for St. Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley. For them, I created a design to be applied to a heart sculpture which was decorated for its sponsors, Tulleys Farm. Tulleys are known best for growing pumpkins in abundance as well as holding some fantastic events. Click here to find out more about them: https://www.tulleysfarm.com/

In addition to the Tulleys design, I also designed and decorated three other hearts. One was for a local amateur football club; another for an IT company and the third was a collaboration between two law firms. The total raised for these was in the region of £8,500.

All this might sound like I am blowing my own trumpet, which I am a little bit, but only to make the point that up until 2019/20 I was actively involved with producing charity artwork pieces. All that stopped in 2020, nothing has come my way in 2021 and there is currently nothing on the horizon.

I am proud of the way I have been able to contribute to helping these charities and feel sad that, whilst the whole world has suffered because of the Covid-19 pandemic, these small charities have completely gone without and are now really struggling to maintain their services. They have used up their reserves but still have seen greater demand for their services. Somehow, we need to find a way to support these small charities, if they have to close vital services will be lost.

Of course, I will start to make new artworks next year when my new studio is built, and I can find my supplies. I will do whatever I can to support my favoured charities: Action on Podoconiosis; St. Catherine’s Hospice and RSPB. I have also been a lifelong supporter of the RNLI and the Royal British Legion, who I have sold poppies for in October and November for a few years. It can be very cold work but it’s very rewarding.

So, here’s a plea to my artist friends. If you can dig deep and help support your local charities through your art sales that would be amazing. To everyone else, just a couple of pounds from each of you could make all the difference to someone in need.

*Elephantiasis, also known as lymphatic filariasis, is caused by parasitic worms, and spread through mosquito bites. Elephantiasis causes swelling of the legs, scrotum or breasts. It is designated a neglected tropical disease (NTD) by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Podoconiosis is a chronic inflammatory, geochemical skin disease, caused by prolonged exposure to red clay soils derived from volcanic rocks.

This irritant rock causes bilateral asymmetrical swelling of the lower legs and affects an estimated four million people globally in 32 countries on or close to the equator. In general, this condition affects poor farmers, who work without footwear allowing the irritant to enter their bodies through small cuts to their feet. Podoconiosis is also a neglected disease, although currently it does not appear on the WHO list of NTDs. The charity I support only works in Ethiopia, but other charities are supporting people suffering with this condition in other countries around the world.

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