As the newest full-time employees of the Arts Council, Evan Johnson, our Grants Administrator, and I were asked to head our internal 2012 United Arts Campaign this week. Just like other workplaces and workplace coordinators who host campaigns, we were charged with the task of planning and orchestrating interactive and fun artsy events for our coworkers to encourage them to contribute to United Arts.
The Arts Council’s workplace giving campaigns have been integral to supporting our local arts community and to substantiating our United Arts campaigns throughout the years. Partnering with local businesses and in-company coordinators, the Arts Council helps teach employees the importance of the arts in Greater Hartford and asks for their support in keeping the arts a strong, vibrant and vital part of our community.
Fueled by our ambition to make this year’s campaign successful, unique and interactive, Evan and I began planning activities for this week about a month ago. During our brainstorming sessions, Evan and I thought a creative bake-off contest would unlock our coworkers’ artsy sides in a fun, different way. We also thought that having a $25 gift card on the line for the winner would inspire some friendly competition throughout the office.
Although I couldn’t enter to win the contest because I was an organizer, I still wanted to participate in the competition and prepare a dish for everyone. My intentions, despite being noble, were thwarted by my abysmal culinary abilities. I ended up deciding to craft a volcano made of chocolate lava cakes decorated to look like it was erupting with red and orange frosting (clever, right?). The end result was a mound of brownie-looking stacks rendered ridiculous by random streaks of red and orange.
Destined for the Spirit Award, I placed my concoction on our board room table amidst some incredibly elegant baked goods. Immediately eye-seizing was a cake decorated as the Arts Council’s logo prepared by Allison Young, our Events Manager. However, from strawberry lemonade cupcakes to recipes from the Depression era, the competition for the baker’s crown was fierce. Ultimately, it was up to Evan to choose a winner and, after a controversial decision, Allison’s logo cake was the overall victor for the day.
As I was gorging myself on the cornucopia of scrumptious food, I realized United Arts workplace campaigns inspire a lot more than donations. Seeing everyone get creative, eat and in general have a good time reminded me of art’s ability to draw people together and build community. By the end of our campaign, I’m sure, with this staff, we’ll reach our fundraising goal with enough memories to reminisce in the kitchen/copy room for months to come. For instance, here’s a start to one already:
“Remember the chocolate lava volcano?”