The biennial Tabriz auction of the Arkansas Arts Center will net at least $550,000 for the Arts Center's coffers, which will wipe out the current year's budget deficit of $216,280, Director of Operations Laine Harber said.
The fundraiser — two auctions, a black-tie dinner and an after-party held Thursday and Saturday of last week — grossed $813,000, an improvement of $200,000 over the 2011 Tabriz, chair Kakki Hockersmith reported to the board Monday. Thanks to this year's online strategy that preceded the Thursday auction, Tabriz sold $31,000 even before the party got rolling Thursday. Thursday night auction receipts were $93,000, and Saturday's $298,000. Ticket sales (the Saturday night black-tie event cost $750 a head) made up the rest.
The board also learned from director Todd Herman that the Arts Center's sorely-needed new website would go online Friday at www.arkansasartscenter.org. The old link, arkarts.com [typo in link corrected], will also work. Herman said the .com address could have suggested the Arts Center was a for-profit business. It will be the first update since the website was created in the last century.
Hockersmith said she didn't want the Arts Center to "lose the momentum" and hoped it would continue to bring in new interest and new dollars. The top three Saturday night auction items: A James Surls drawing, "On Being Back Agin with the Cow and the Bull," for $6,600; a Capital Hotel House Party for $5,000; and a Charleston, S.C., "experience" for 20 for $4,000. Top three Thursday night items: A Broadway show and backstage tour for $2,815, "Sit Like a Pro at Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field" for $1,750 and an "interactive" dinner with Chicago mixologist Paul McGee for $1,502.
Another person bought the Arts Center Board Party, in which the board members serve dinner for 12 in the galleries, for $4,000.
The Arts Center board has not yet decided what its off-year fund-raiser will be, but among the things it needs to buy is a backup generator. A wreck nearby that knocked out power to the Arts Center for three hours meant it had to cancel a Children's Theater performance and refund the money. (There are curatorial reasons as well for a system to keep the power going.) Harber also noted that the newest part of the Arts Center is now 13 years old, and the board must plan for updates.
More good news: The Signac Gallery will reopen May 24 with new paint, new text panels and new lighting. Attendance in April was up 10,500 over the year previous.