Salute to the Arts Benefit Auction goes virtual in 2021

The Springfield’s Arts Council’s biggest annual fundraiser is going on now in a new, virtual format for 2021.

The 44th annual Salute to the Arts Benefit Auction kicked off April 10 and continues through May 1, says Greg Rogers, president of the Springfield Arts Council Board.

The traditional in-person event includes a cocktail hour, formal dinner, live music, 100s of silent auction items and additional items in a live auction, Rogers says.

However, because of COVID-19 regulations, this year’s event shifted to a virtual format and was slated to run for a few weeks to give bidders time to bid on prize packages.

“It’s the Arts Council’s biggest fundraiser for the year, and all the proceeds go to benefit the Summer Arts Festival, the Youth Arts Ambassadors, and Arts in the Classroom,” Rogers says. “It’s literally our most important event of the year.”

In 2020, the in-person event was able to happen shortly before pandemic shutdowns began. But, Rogers says as some programming was able to continue and as plans are underway to possibly have the return of the Summer Arts Festival this year, it’s as important as ever to get community support for 2021's virtual fundraiser.

“The need for funds doesn’t stop, so it was important that we worked to find a way to have an event this year,” Rogers says.

The online auction includes about 40 more-exclusive items than in the traditional auction, Rogers says, including artwork, dinner packages, local getaways, tropical getaways, golf packages and wine and bourbon packages.

In addition to bidding on auction items, the event also includes raffle ticket sales for a $1,000 cash raffle. Tickets can be purchased through the auction site, directly at the Springfield Arts Council office or from an Arts Council board member, Rogers says.

At the traditional Salute to the Arts events, many attendees also opt to make cash donations to support the Arts Council, he says. Anyone interested in making a donation outside of bidding on an auction prize can contact the Arts Council office at 937-324-2712 or reach out to a board member.

Rogers hopes that the online format this year will be able to reach a larger audience of Arts Council supporters, including former Springfield residents or people from other communities who visit Springfield to enjoy the six-weeks of admission-free entertainment during the Summer Arts Festival.

“With it being online, whether you’re a transplant into Springfield or a transplant out of Springfield, you’re able to get on there and continue to support our mission,” Rogers says.

Anyone interested in bidding on online auction items can visit the auction site anytime between now and May 1 to place their bid.

“Lots of people always ask how they can contribute to the Arts Council and Summer Arts Festival outside of donating during Pass the Hat or buying concessions, and this is it – participating in our annual fundraisers, which are the auction, wine tasting and golf outing,” Rogers says. “This is a big one, so everybody's contribution goes a long way.”

Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.