Utilizing the arts to raise money for a great cause

As I walked into the dimly lit room, I could hear amazing live music along with the chatter of many conversations. I could see people drinking brightly coloured drinks, gathering around a table full of gift baskets and beautiful handmade jewellery. As I waited for my complementary glass of sangria at the bar, I watched a slide show of happy African children being projected on the wall. With my drink in hand, I wandered down a ramp examining the beautiful paintings that were displayed on the walls. Although still in the same room, I suddenly found myself standing in a pit with bright lights shining on canvases, with people dressed in white smocks freeing their inner artists, turning the canvases into masterpieces.
On September 24th, a unique fundraising event called Paint for Food was held at Raw Canvas in Yaletown, utilizing the arts to bring people together for a great cause. Live music was provided by Honey & the Money and Kathi Reid, paintings created by local artists Graham Campbell and Kass Reich were up for auction, and people were encouraged to create their own masterpieces with a gallery of paintings surrounding them for inspiration. Local artists were also on hand to provide encouragement. There was a raffle for many great prizes, and items made by women in the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana were available for purchase. By the end of the evening, about 70 people attended and $4,000 was raised to support The Niapele Project's School Nutrition Initiative.
The Niapele Project has worked with Liberian refugees in Ghana, and is now operating a School Nutrition Initiative at the Carolyn A Miller School in Monrovia, Liberia, which is a tuition-free school with over 600 students. Co-founder and director of the Niapele Project, Penelope Chester, explains this initiative and the goal of the evening: ``The kids get a free meal every day when they come to school, which is great and encourages attendance. Each meal costs 15 cents. With presales before the evening had begun, we had already raised $1,400, which is about 10,000 meals. We purchase the food from a local agricultural co-op, which is run by a group of 72 women. We work with them and our nutritionists to develop meals that are relevant and correspond to the traditional Liberian way.''
The venue, Raw Canvas, is also very noteworthy, and would be of interest to artist and non-artists alike. It is a gallery, café, and bar that features live music and poetry readings, but what makes it unique is a painting pit inside the venue. So when you are having a few drinks with friends and inspiration strikes, you can head to the pit, throw on a smock, buy a canvas, and let the creative juices flow. They supply everything you need, including resident artists to help with any painting technique you'd like to try.
Raw Canvas co-owner Paige Faraci explains the concept behind the venue: ``It is a gathering space around the creative process. We really wanted to offer what I like to call an `art house' where people can come together and gather around something other than just going out to drink or just going out for food, and we've had a really amazing response.'' Paige says that her and co-owner Steve Merkley ``have a vision that is one of helping the world. We use all organic biodynamic wine and other products where we can get it. Being sustainable is in our mission.''
If you would like check out the venue, or would like to inquire about booking a gig, info can be found on their website: For more information on the project, to make a donation, or to purchase handmade products made by women in the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana, you can check out their website: 

// Jessica nolan,

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com