CANTON — Robb Hankins, who has a knack for surprising people, decided to throw ArtsinStark’s 2019 fundraising campaign wrap-up at an unexpected yet appropriate location — Alex’s Art House, a gallery located near Clarendon School.
“Our theme this year is ‘Art Changes Lives’ and this gallery has changed this neighborhood,” Hankins said. “This gallery is colorful, it’s decorated and it feels like you’re at a party.”
On Wednesday the place was full of both Alex Minturn’s paintings and a cross-section of Canton artists, arts administrators and business and community leaders. After much comedic fanfare, including a sing-along of the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” Hankins exclaimed, “We’ve made goal for the 14th year in a row! One million, 660 thousand -- and five bucks!”
Despite the victory, fundraising for the arts “never gets easier,” Hankins said pre-party.
“We start this campaign on time and we end on time, and as soon as you make that decision, it’s insanity," he said. "Last night, we were calling people (for donations) till 11:00.”
Of the money raised, 75 percent will be distributed to major arts groups, smaller groups and artists, and 25 percent will be used for arts programs in schools, the Cultural Center and downtown revitalization, Hankins said. He spoke with excitement of ArtsinStarks’ upcoming Friday Night Live series, which will present a live outdoor concert in downtown’s Canton Music Block every Friday from the First Friday of June through the First Friday of August.
Brian Zimmerman, the attorney who chairs ArtsinStark’s board, thanked the 2,500 corporate, foundation and individual donors to the 2019 campaign, the 25 workplaces that held campaign events and the 100 campaign volunteers.
“Because of you, we can see how the arts affect the community, one child at a time,” Zimmerman said. He also praised “the energy Robb brings to these campaigns and to the arts every single minute he is awake.”
The chair of the 2019 campaign, Mercy Medical President and CEO Paul Hiltz, was away in Arizona, so his wife, Kris, briefly addressed the gathering, saying, “Thanks for all the energy, effort and donations. It’s truly appreciated.” Six previous campaign chairs were actively involved in this year’s fundraising, Hankins noted.
Addressing the party-goers, Hankins spoke proudly of triumphs in the local arts, including Canton Ballet’s four sold-out performances of “The Nutcracker,” the Canton Symphony’s sold-out Billy Joel-Elton John pops concert, the Players Guild’s many sellout performances this season, the Palace Theatre’s successful concert partnership with LiveNation, the Massillon Museum’s enlargement, Voices of Canton’s new Vox Audio chorus and the Canton Museum of Art’s upcoming “blockbuster” exhibition “Dancing in the Light.”
Minturn seemed delighted to have such a high-level arts event happening at his gallery, which opened in a former appliance store last June. “Before we opened, a lot of people were saying, ’You’re doing what where? And a year later, here we are.”
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