At this com­mu­nity art auc­tion (vol­un­teer) time re­ally is money

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS & LIFE - By Carolin Ve­sely

AF­TER pur­chas­ing a house last year, teacher Ben Shed­den and his wife, Eden, a full-time stu­dent, didn’t ex­actly have a stash of cash with which to adorn its “drab” bare walls.

So the Win­nipeg cou­ple went to a silent art auc­tion and suc­cess­fully bid on two paint­ings by lo­cal artists.

The Shed­dens worked a com­bined 160 hours to pay off their bid but they never spent a penny, be­cause at a timeraiser art auc­tion, time re­ally is money.

In­stead of bid­ding dollars, at­ten­dees bid vol­un­teer hours to agen­cies and or­ga­ni­za­tions that need their labour and skills.

Ben and Eden vol­un­teered to­gether at the Win­nipeg Fringe Theatre Fes­ti­val, while Eden also helped out at Villa Rosa, a pre- and post-na­tal res­i­dence for young, sin­gle women.

“Vol­un­teer­ing so many hours was easy,” says Ben. The event it­self, he adds, was an op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a bit of high-brow cul­ture.

“To see the kind of pieces that were avail­able, meet lo­cal non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion reps and eat fancy horsd’oeu­vres while drink­ing wine and bid­ding on art made us feel like high­so­ci­ety.”

On May 30, Win­nipeg­gers will be able to spend their most pre­cious com­mod­ity on orig­i­nal works of art while help­ing com­mu­nity causes. The third Win­nipeg Timeraiser takes place at Man­i­toba Hy­dro Place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tick­ets are $10 each and avail­able on­line at www.timeraiser.ca or at the door.

The event, de­scribed as “part vol­un­teer fair, part silent auc­tion and part night on the town,” aims to raise 4,000 vol­un­teer hours for some 25 dif­fer­ent agen­cies while also in­vest­ing around $10,000 in the ca­reers of lo­cal artists.

“It sup­ports artists, non-prof­its and vol­un­teerism — a win-win-win for ev­ery­one,” says co-chair­woman Janel­lyn Mar­cial.

How it works is that over the course of the evening, at­ten­dees will chat with reps from com­mu­nity groups — such as Fort Whyte Alive, Spence Neigh­bour­hood As­so­ci­a­tion and West Cen­tral Women’s Re­source Cen­tre — and match their skills to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s needs.

“It’s kind of like speed dat­ing,” says Mar­cial. “But we try to pro­mote skilled vol­un­teer po­si­tions, so it’s a lit­tle bit more than fil­ing or ad­min­is­tra­tive work.”

Once a match has been made, wouldbe vol­un­teers are then el­i­gi­ble to bid on 25 or so paint­ings by Man­i­toba artists — which were pur­chased at fair mar­ket price (up to $800 per piece) for the auc­tion.

The win­ner is the per­son who pledges the high­est num­ber of vol­un­teers hours, which they will have one year to com­plete. A min­i­mum bid of 20 hours is sug­gested, al­though Mar­cial says that last year, all but two art­works went for the max­i­mum bid of 100 hours.

You don’t have to bid on a work of art to pledge vol­un­teer hours, of course. If you do make a win­ning bid, you have 12 months to pay it off. Un­til then, your paint­ing will adorn the of­fice wall of a timeraiser cor­po­rate spon­sor.

The timeraiser was born in 2002 af­ter a group of friends in Toronto brain­stormed for ways to find more mean­ing­ful and rel­e­vant vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties. They are cur­rently be­ing held in 10 cities across Canada.

Since 2003, timerais­ers have gen­er­ated a re­ported 114,000 vol­un­teer hours for 550 non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­vested more than $700,000 in emerg­ing artists.

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