Art for Money's Sake and Art's Sake

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Last Tuesday publisher Sally Freeman and I gave a talk at the Idaho State Historical Museum to the Friends of the Museum. I chatted about the history of alt journalism and Sally gave an overview of the cover auction.

Incidentally, we spoke in the room where the auction was to take place the day following our talk, and the entirety of last year's cover work was on display.

For seven years running, Boise Weekly has solicited submissions from local artists to publish on our cover every week. Each week's chosen artists receives $150 and a $25 gift certificate to Boise Blue to replenish supplies. Every November, we auction off the year's worth of covers, and proceeds go to support the arts. Over the years, we've supported organizations providing children's arts education. In 2006, we funded the creation of a public work of art, and last year, we created a private grant.

This year's auction, last Wednesday night, raked in nearly $13,000, a sum with which we were pleasantly surprised given the current state of the economy. In total, BW has raised more than $78,000 for the arts since starting the auction in 2002.

One of the things Sally and I shared with those who were at Tuesday's talk is the fact that Boise Weekly is the only alt newsweekly of its kind in the country that gives up its cover space this way. In an industry in which it's standard to use the cover to promote the stories inside, handing over prime front page space to a local artist is seen by some as a completely wasted opportunity for promotion. And perhaps in other markets, it would be.

In Boise, however, it's difficult to argue that a $12,000-infusion into the arts is a missed opportunity.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support BW's Annual Cover Auction every year. Thank you for helping to make this year a success despite seemingly chaotic financial times. And thanks to you artists, who continue to bring us your work and make the auction possible.