Lynchburg’s “largest art auction” will help high schoolers pursue their dreams
What happens when a community comes together because of a shared love of art and a united passion to help local students? The result is Art for Achievement—a fundraising effort that combines the talents of dozens of local artists to raise money for Lynchburg Beacon of Hope, a nonprofit focused on helping students attain post-secondary education.
While the grand finale for Art for Achievement is a beautiful formal gala at the Virginian Hotel on Nov. 9, the work to create the centerpiece—a giant mosaic display of artwork—began many months ago.
Lynchburg Beacon of Hope is known for its cornhole tournament fundraiser each year, which is a grand success. But this year they wanted to add another event to their calendar. Inspired by a fundraiser they saw in another state that involved the creation of a huge wall of local artwork, Beacon of Hope’s board members creatively and collectively started working on a plan for a similar art-focused fundraiser and gala. They asked the Lynchburg Art Club for help.
The Lynchburg Art Club was founded in 1895 by Bernhard Gutman, who at the time was the supervisor of art for the Lynchburg Public School System.
To this day, members of the Art Club create scholarships for local students who are planning to attend art school after graduation. Collaborating with Beacon of Hope for Art for Achievement only expands on that mission; they were thrilled to help.
The Art Club didn’t want any financial gain from the project, specifying that all money raised be given directly to Beacon of Hope. They only wanted exposure of their artwork in the community.
Members of the Art Club were asked to create Lynchburg-focused paintings on 10’x10’ canvases to contribute to the giant mosaic. But you didn’t have to be a part of the club—young artists from both city high schools as well as other talented community members contributed canvases as well.
“The enthusiasm about this project has been tremendous right from the start,” said Kathy Busch, the Art Club’s past president and current committee member. “We wanted 100 10’x10’ canvases, but eventually 130 were purchased.”
The painted canvases were placed on multiple display panels, 20 per panel, creating the multi-piece mural wall. When the display boards were placed side by side, the 130 canvases created a larger-than-life display of art.
Local artist and Art Club member Lisa Richards painted three canvases in the mosaic, and she donated two larger floral paintings for the gala’s live auction. She has enjoyed seeing the community be so engaged by an art-focused event.
“This is a great way to help the students to be able to achieve their goals,” Lisa said, adding that it’s also a great way for local artists’ work to be seen, too.
Ted Batt, director of visual arts at the Academy Center of the Arts, donated two sculptures to the live auction and also helped install the mosaic.
“This event just represents the really strong and vibrant community of artists we have here in Lynchburg,” he said.
The mission of the event also hits close to home. “I wholeheartedly believe in it, having two high school students myself. Making sure every student has the chance to start out on the right foot,” he said, adding that his son is currently attending Central Virginia Community College and his daughter plans to do the same, then transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University.
The staff and supporters of Beacon of Hope, which was established in 2011, work diligently to inspire and assist students who are currently attending Lynchburg City Schools in pursuing post-secondary education, including two- and four-year colleges, military enlistment, trade schools, technical degrees, and industry certifications.
The nonprofit has nestled itself alongside Lynchburg’s public schools. Its purpose is to focus intently on working with students in the 9th through 12th grades, helping each student prepare a plan for their life after graduation.
However, they also work with younger students to ignite a spark of excitement. Beginning in Kindergarten, students are entered into Beacon of Hope’s Kids 2 College program, where they are taught to start dreaming about whether they want to attend college and what they want to be when they grow up. In 8th grade, students participate in Beacon of Hope’s College Readiness Symposium and are given the opportunity to visit a nearby college campus.
Inside Heritage and E.C. Glass high schools there are Beacon of Hope Future Centers. These labs create a safe space where students can seek guidance on post-secondary planning and much more. This year, a third lab was established at the Amherst campus of CVCC.
But one of the most exciting accomplishments of Beacon of Hope, and the purpose behind the Art for Achievement fundraiser, is the Stay Close, Go Far Promise Scholarship. Last year, Beacon of Hope created this scholarship to help bridge the gap between the amount of money students could obtain from FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), grants, and scholarships… and the actual cost of tuition.
When the dollar amount of financial assistance falls short, Beacon of Hope has promised that any student who has attended Lynchburg City Schools for four years (from 9th through 12th grades) can receive what they call a “gap scholarship” to help with the costs of attending CVCC or other area schools. Scholarship amounts vary depending on where the student wants to enroll.
This Stay Close, Go Far Promise was made to help students over a five-year span. More than $5 million dollars has been raised for this scholarship fund by local individuals, businesses, and foundations, and due to the program’s large popularity with students, Beacon of Hope is seeking to raise $2 million more.
According to Joan Foster, who serves on Beacon of Hope’s Board of Directors and on the fundraiser’s development committee, the goal of the Art for Achievement fundraiser on Nov. 9 is to raise money to be used towards this promise.
“We are truly coming together and working together collectively for the future of our students, and for the future of our community,” she said. “That’s a good day in Lynchburg when two groups can come together to do that.”
This new and exciting partnership with the Art Club has given Joan plenty of hope.
Art For Achievement
Saturday, Nov. 9, 6 – 9 p.m.
The Virginian Hotel, Lynchburg
Live music, cocktails, canapes. Live and silent auction of local artwork, including canvases.
By Teresa Davis | Photos by Bryant Haskins