The Athens Art Guild helps local art teachers each year during the group’s annual Holiday Shoppe. Approximately 40 artists set up booths at the shop, and each artist is asked to donate one of his or her pieces to be raffled.
The money collected from the raffle goes toward buying supplies for art teachers in Athens and surrounding counties.
Teachers receive a letter at the beginning of the school year informing them of the scholarship program. They simply fill out a form including why they need additional funding.
Tina Kelsey, president of the Athens Art Guild (which used to be known as the Athens Local Professional Artists and Craftsmen Association – ALPACA), understands the importance behind the program. Kelsey is a teacher and therefore familiar with local schools and their needs.
“Art supplies and money keep dwindling and dwindling,” said Kelsey. “Art teachers do a whole lot with not much.”
A past recipient of the award, Jessica Medley, has taught art for 10 years. She taught for seven years at Nelsonville-York High School and three years at Alexander Elementary.
“I filled out what I wanted and they purchased it and sent it to me,” recalled Medley. “The students were thrilled to receive the supplies, as was I. I was very thankful because my budget was very small, about $500 per year. They had never painted on canvas, because of the lack of funding in the arts.”
This year’s Holiday Shoppe will take place Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 13 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Athens Community Center, East State Street. Items for sale include jewelry, ceramics, wood and soap creations. Raffle tickets will be $1 or six tickets for $5.
Athens Art Guild members also sell their work during the Athens Farmers Market the first and third Saturdays of each month from April to November. The hours are 9 a.m. to noon in front of the University Mall at 1002 E. State St.
The guild seeks to educate and help local artists network and provide vending opportunities for its members. Currently, they are hoping to start a mentoring program for new artists.
“We want to help people learn how to get started as an artist, help take photos of their pieces, network, and know how it all works,” said Kelsey. “It cost a lot of money and takes a lot of time to find shows and galleries. It’s nice to have someone to call to come over and see what they think of your work.”
The mentoring program remains in the meeting stages, as does the Guild’s interest in developing a yearly art festival.
Kelsey said she believes Athens has enough resources to allow local artists to make money so they don’t have to travel outside the county on a regular basis to seek income.
“Myself and many other local artists are gone every weekend,” said Kelsey. “Athens is one of the coolest places ever to live. Why do we have to travel to promote ourselves? We have amazing breweries and amazing musicians in this town.”