Party raises funding for local arts organization




The Finnup House in Garden City sported a yellow brick road and a variety of Oz-themed decorations Saturday night as guests enjoyed food, drinks and dancing under the stars.

The Garden City Arts fund-raiser welcomed approximately 100 guests with its theme "Artz: The Great & Powerful."

"It's been a great event this year," first year Garden City Arts board of directors president Lara Bors said. "We got a lot of great vendors and a lot of great people here to support the arts tonight."

The annual event, which raises funds for Garden City Arts, featured donated food and beverages and performances by local artist The Third Degree Band.

"It always manages to come together," board member Domenic Varricchio said. "It's a lot of work to put something like this together. It doesn't seem like it, but getting all the rental deals done, procuring all the food, the band — just putting all that together is a lot of work. I think it's a fantastic turnout; great job all around."

Laurie Chapman, executive director at Garden City Arts, said the fundraiser is critical to the organization's survival.

"All of those funds go to operational expenses," she said. "You know there are grants out there that cover the cost of certain projects or programs, but there's not a lot of grants out there that will provide operational expenses. So my salary, rent, utilities, those are sometimes things that go uncovered. We are trying to push our way through the end of the year. The Garden Party is one of those things we look at for mid-year to carry us through the end of the year."

Bors also stated the importance of Saturday's event.

"For us, it's critical because with the governor cutting out funding for the arts at the state level, this is how we survive. And if we didn't have this and have the community supporting us, we wouldn't be able to keep our doors open," she said.

Garden City Arts is a nonprofit organization, initiated in 1989 as the Southwest Kansas Arts and Humanities Council, dedicated to enriching lives and encouraging creativity through the arts.

"Truly what we see in the Garden City Arts is a place for local folks, local artists, to get a chance to show their work. Definitely a place for the public to get to play with art," Nancy Harness, board vice president, said. "We got an awful lot of children's programming, especially during the summer. So that's what we are doing, raising money to support that."

In her time as executive director, Chapman has been working to expand children's programming at the Garden City Arts Gallery.

"It was nice to see the kids come in and create things. Every once in a while, some would come in and give me something they made at home," she said. "That kind of told me that they enjoyed what they were doing, but when the parents would come in and say, 'Oh you can't imagine how excited they are when they come in here and they know when Tuesday is or they know when Wednesday is, and they are excited.' They want to be here, you know. That makes me feel good that we are making an impact, and I just want to propel that forward. I want to push to be able to do the new programs where we are working with kids."

Garden City Arts is a place where kids can go in order to explore their creativity in an artistic environment.

"It's nice to feel like you are making an impact even on one person's life, however small it is," Chapman said. "So, if we keep on doing that, I feel like we have done something good."

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