On a groovy night for fundraising, tie-dye T-shirted arts supporters pulled their wallets and pocketbooks from their bell-bottom blue jeans and flipped their ’60s wigs to support the arts.
The 41st Annual unCommon Cause drew a crowd of 340 people, about 10 more than last year, and just the auction portions of the evening generated $37,000 for the Columbus Area Arts Council. The total does not yet include ticket proceeds and other revenue from elements such as sales of bead necklaces.
Organizers expect that final figures will be available later in the week. Last year’s fundraiser set a record with a net of $118,000.
Attendees latched on to the event theme perhaps stronger than ever over the past years. The gathering, “Experience the 60s: From Mods to Motown, Buzz Cuts to Bell-bottoms,” featured four honorary chairs who attended the legendary four-day Woodstock festival in 1969.
Story continues below gallery
One, Hutch Schumaker, took the microphone at one point to speak to the crowd.
“I’m just absolutely impressed with the stuff many of you have on,” Schumaker said.
Several women, such as Diane Robbins, sported white, knee-high go-go boots. There were enough tinted, rounded, wire-rimmed glasses to launch a John Lennon/Yoko Ono Convention. Headbands, fringed vests and psychedelic tops seemed de rigueur for the evening.
But others took a different approach to costuming. A group of eight friends dressed as the early ’60s NASA Mercury 7 astronauts who preceded the Apollo missions. Joining them was Bill Glick as a mission control commander with such detail to his appearance that he got a crew cut Saturday morning to look the part of flight director Eugene Kranz.
“We figured that almost everybody would wear something from the late ’60s for their outfits,” Glick said. “So, we thought we’d do something different.”
Emcee Andy Saurer sported a dark wig of Beatles-style hair, a cloth headband and a multi-colored tunic-style shirt he just bought at Party City’s ’60s section.
“I had some of this other stuff already,” Saurer said.
And, of course, if marijuana jokes had been actual smoke, the whole place would have been high as The Commons ceiling. Some chuckled good-naturedly when they noted that brownies were among the desserts for the meal.
But the serious part of the evening unfolded with the silent and public auctions. In the silent event, local sculptor Martin Beach’s creation, “Sprint,” fetched $975.
In the public auction, arts council board member Victoria Griffin bid an evening-topping $10,000 for a trip to the Golden Isles of Georgia, including St. Simons Island. She has made family celebrations of past trips she has purchased, including one two years ago to a Wyoming dude ranch.
But this time will be different.
“We’ll relax with friends, sit in the sand and drink some margaritas,” Griffin said.
Actor Doug Stender bid $5,000 for an elaborate, home-cooked French-themed dinner for a dozen people at a location to be selected later. He also paid $2,900 for a golf outing at two courses in southern Indiana, including the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, which won accolades from Golf Digest.
He has purchased other links-related packages at past local fundraisers.
“If it’s anything on a golf course, I’ll bid on it,” Stender said.
Kathryn Armstrong, who became arts council executive director in June, said it is tough to tell where the fundraising total will land. Arts council staffers have said that some people continue to donate to unCommon Cause even days afterward, pushing the figures higher.
“It’s been a wonderful night,” Armstrong said.
It also was a night that demonstrated that, as far out as the ’60s were, the modern era turned a few heads, too. Barbara Stevens landed the first live auction package: two passes to the 2017 Abbey Road on the River Beatles fest in Jeffersonville. But Stevens was more interested in trip’s fringe benefits: a two-night stay at the four-star 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I have wanted to go for a long time,” she said. “That (art) hotel is a big draw.”
Then she remembered where she was and laughed.
“Well,” Stevens said, “the Beatles groups are a big draw, too.”
Number of live auction items
Number of silent auction items
Live auction total