“If we disappeared, I don’t know who would pick up the slack. There would be such a huge gap in the culture of Dorchester!” exclaims Leslie MacWeeney, executive director and founder of Dot Art, the local arts education program that provides free or low-cost classes to children, teens and adults.
Despite a financial climate that she describes as “as anxious-making as I’ve ever seen it,” MacWeeney is determined that Dot Art’s annual fundraising Snazzy Jazzy Arty Party, scheduled for this Saturday in the Cedar Grove area, along with other creative financing initiatives will keep the highly regarded organization afloat.
The Dorchester Community Center for the Visual Arts, as Dot Art is officially known, was incorporated in January of 1998 when sixteen residents came together to address a pressing need for visual arts education in Dorchester neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the strains of the economy have forced Dot Art to run only a quarter of the number of programs they offered a few years ago.
But the doughty MacWeeney is rallying colleagues, family, and friends to ensure that Saturday’s bash will be even more successful than the record-setting 2009 event that attracted 99 attendees. She hopes many first-timers will come not out of pity for the program but because the event is such a blast. Just ask Gary and Sarah Ciambrone, who had so much fun and little fuss hosting last year’s event that they gladly volunteered to do it all over again this year.
The fifth annual Snazzy Jazzy Arty Party will feature participatory art making, live music (by the Aronow Music Jazz Quartet back for the third year), and silent and live auctions. The tapas style buffet will be catered by the owners of Rudi’s Resto Café and Bar (MacWeeney’s across-the-street neighbors), of Robyn’s Bar and Grill (friends of a board member), and of the Ashmont Grill and Tavolo (the always generous Chris Douglass).
City Councilor John Connolly will demonstrate his auctioneering prowess by getting the most bucks not only for the usual sorts of items like sports tickets, local hotel/restaurant packages, and getaways to Maine and New Hampshire, but also for special offers like a hot air balloon ride in Texas and a ten-day stay in London.
Also up for auction along with artworks by Dorchester professional and youth artists, there’ll be a print by MacWeeney’s photographer brother Alen, who began his career as Richard Avedon’s assistant. His work, represented in New York’s MoMA and Metropolitan, usually sells for thousands of dollars, but some lucky bidder is going home Saturday with an Alen MacWeeney picture at a bargain price.
Some of the funds raised will go toward operational funding, but most will go to try to compensate for the expected huge shortfall for its much-lauded summer programs that pay teens to make art and learn important life-skills. Both its long-running “People, Portraits and Places” and “Sisters for Change” may very well be cancelled this year.
Tickets are $75, 2 for $140 and with the purchase will come the site of the party. If you cannot attend, consider sponsoring a Dot Art parent or volunteer who may not otherwise be able to attend the party. Donate online at dotart.org or send a check made out to “Dot Art” to Dot Art, 18 Samoset Street, Dorchester, MA 02124.