We regularly feature a few of the many artists who contribute to Twitter Art Exhibit. This time we’re looking at some of the charities TAE has supported over the years. In this piece, by Carolyn Murphy, we find out how your artwork makes a really big difference to people’s lives, long after the big opening event and exhibition.
Since its launch in 2011, Twitter Art Exhibit has raised a total of $133,000 for great causes. Ahead of Twitter Art Exhibit 2022 #TAE22, we’ve gone back to find out more about the impact and legacy of TAE for the charities involved and the people they help.
How are the charities selected?
The TAE curator picks a local charity to support. It’s that simple! Often it’s down to networking. This means TAE charities tend to be close to the curators’ hearts - or actively doing great work already in their region.
For example, Horry County Disabilities and Special Needs (HCDSN) in Conway, South Carolina is the charity that curator Debanjana Bhattacharjee chose for TAE20. Susan John of HCDSN explained, “we had a relationship with a local art gallery as we held our annual 'Canvas and Cocktails' fundraising event there. Debanjana got to know our organisation through that association and selected us.”
What difference has TAE made to the charities themselves?
TAE helps financially, of course – but the charities mentioned other benefits too: from spreading the word amongst the local community, raising awareness with new audiences and creating new connections with people.
Claire Charlton, of LINC (The Leukaemia and Intensive Chemotherapy Fund) in Cheltenham, the TAE21 charity, said “Perhaps we were fortunate to have our year during the pandemic. The positivity of receiving so many beautiful pieces of artwork from all around the world during lockdown was an absolute pleasure. It gave the charity such visual content during a bleak time. The coverage on social media was vital to us as a small charity, bringing awareness to our cause and the difficulties faced by our leukaemia patients.”
As a direct result of TAE, HCDSN “have new associations with people who have reached out to assist us through volunteering and donations - as well as seeking services or referring people in need,” explained Susan John.
How has the money raised been put to good use?
Rachel Ollerenshaw of Molly Olly’s Wishes, the TAE17 charity chosen by curator Cat Salter-Smith, explained that the funds raised have helped Molly Olly’s grant wishes. “These can be anything from a piece of equipment such as specialist bed, a professional blender for a child needing a liquid diet, to an item that helps keep children entertained during long periods in the hospital such as an iPad, games, Lego, or arts and crafts materials. For some families, their wish could be a day out or an experience to give them something to look forward to. For others, it may be photos or memory items. The support helps to make the dark days brighter for children and their families when battling a serious life-threatening illness.”
Meet Oscar, aged five, who has leukaemia. Molly Olly’s granted his wish for a John Deere Gator to ride around on so he could get back out and about in the fresh air.
Susan John of HCDSN explained “TAE helped us raise money to modify a couple of our homes built in the 1980’s, to make upgrades.” Whilst LINC, put the £21,800 raised in 2021 by TAE towards funding the posts of LINC clinical psychologists. “The emotional support they provide not only helps patients facing a cancer diagnosis but their families as well.”
What happens to any unsold postcards?
It is great to hear that the charities have continued to auction or sell artworks at other fundraising events. HCDSN have also placed some work in frames in the charity offices and living spaces, whilst Molly Olly’s has donated some works to individuals who have supported the charity in different ways. They have a small number remaining that they will donate to a hospice or hospital.
LINC plan to display and sell work at an event next year in the LINC Sanctuary Garden.
What would you like to say to all the TAE artists?
Susan John, of HCDSN, seemed to sum up perfectly the sentiment of all the TAE charity partners: “Thank you, thank you, thank you! Without your huge heart, incredible artistic talent and generosity, none of this would be possible.”
What do you see as the highlights of being part of TAE?
Rachel Ollerenshaw, from Molly Olly’s Wishes held their opening event and exhibition back in 2017. “We loved seeing where in the world the cards had come from - and the variety! The opening night was particularly good fun because so many people attended from different places around the UK and across the world. It had a great buzz to the evening and was just so busy as everyone was frantically buying.”
Claire Charlton, at LINC, felt “the highlight was definitely the sense of community and being part of such a large network of support. Being able to hold a live opening, just as the restrictions were eased, was such a positive engagement with local supporters and we were thrilled with how many people attended on the day. I also loved working with [TAE curator Cat Salter-Smith] Cathy – a definite highlight!”
There was huge praise for the hard-working TAE curators, the whole TAE team, the generosity of the venues, as well as for the artists and everyone who bought an artwork.
It’s clear that the chosen charities continue to feel part of the TAE family. Our contacts there follow the exhibitions and some have been lucky to visit other events and have bought postcards themselves, which they are still enjoying today.
Rachel Ollerenshaw said “All the team at Molly Olly’s Wishes felt hugely proud and honoured to be one of the chosen charities for TAE. We felt we were part of something special.” I’m sure we can all agree with that!
Twitter Art Exhibit has just launched TAE 2022 which will take place in York, in the UK. The TAE22 charity, chosen by curator Mathew Bose, is The Encephalitis Society @encephalitis. The wonderful worldwide TAE community will be coming together again to show what we can do to make a difference through art!
Sincere thanks to Molly Olly’s Wishes (TAE17), HCDSN (TAE20) and LINC (TAE21) for giving their feedback and sharing their stories. To find out more about these fantastic charities, you can check out the links below:
Molly Olly’s Wishes supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to help with their emotional wellbeing. We grant individual wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books both to children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK. www.mollyolly.co.uk On Twitter www.twitter.com/MollyOllys and video link: https://youtu.be/8VVm8No3d2w
Horry County Disabilities & Special Needs (HCDSN) provides services and supports to individuals, of all ages, with intellectual disabilities, related disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Autism and individuals who have had a brain injury or a spinal cord injury. www.hcdsn.org On Twitter: @hcdsn
LINC, The Leukaemia and Intensive Chemotherapy Fund, provides emotional and financial support for people receiving intensive chemotherapy. www.lincfund.org