Galleries to aid school arts programs

Lawrence's Downtown Gallery Walk on Friday will mean more for Lawrence schools.

In conjunction with the Gallery Walk, several downtown galleries will have a benefit to assist Lawrence Schools Foundation. Ten percent of the proceeds at the event will go to the Lawrence Schools Foundation, which will earmark the funds for school art programs.

"I was thinking about ways to tie our gallery events into the community more," said Sheila Wilkins, gallery manager at Fields Gallery and benefit coordinator. "I thought it would be neat to make it a benefit for Lawrence public schools, since they're having such a hard time right now -- especially in the art departments."

Much of the work at the benefit will come from local and regional artists the gallery represents. Though a percentage of the money will be designated for school art programs, no one has determined exactly how the money will be spent.

"We don't have any specifics yet," said Lori Johns, director of the Lawrence Schools Foundation. "We have a lot of different needs and a lot of different art teachers, so the plan is to get together with them after the donations are made and figure out where the greatest need is."

Past gallery walks have had a good turnout, Wilkins said, with approximately 200 people attending the walks. She said Fields had been trying to get the word out about the benefit by using mailing lists, and talking to art teachers and others involved with Lawrence schools.

"The schools are very encouraged that we want to support the program," Wilkins said. "I used to teach art, so it's a big concern for me, and I hate to see the art programs diminish in any way."

She said many of the galleries in town were concerned about the problems with state funding for schools right now.

Johns said she was excited with the community support shown for Lawrence public schools.


Journal-World File Photo

Lawrence High's Renee Wilson works on her art final during the 2002-2003 school year. Lawrence's Downtown Gallery Walk will have a benefit to help keep school art programs alive.

"The gallery walks always get a pretty good crowd," Johns said. "It's a fun event for everybody and it's good for downtown. We're just happy to be a part of it and be the beneficiary."

Neither Wilkins nor Johns knew for sure if future gallery walks would be used as benefits for Lawrence public schools.

"It's a really nice way to make the gallery walk part of the community, so I think it's a good idea to have something like a benefit to encourage people to come out," Wilkins said. "That's something I'd like to consider that will be ongoing."

Johns echoed Wilkins' sentiments.

"I hadn't really thought beyond this one," she said. "It'd certainly be great if this is something that they can continue doing. It's a great event and it benefits everybody."


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