On April 5, WHAM’s Traveling Art Studio, which is used to take art to the communities of the West Valley, was stolen.
While that was a huge disappointment, we put together a GoFundMe on April 12th with a goal of raising $6,000 and within a couple days, donations started coming in to help replace our trailer and to support our program that has reached so many children over the past 4 years.
Our traveling art studio, which we call WHAM on Wheels, promotes the arts through participating in city events. Our trailer carries tables which are placed out in a horseshoe configuration allowing for 30 children at a time to sit and make an art activity for free that they can take with them.
During one event, WHAM is able to serve 200 to 300 children depending on the time allotted.
These free art activities are something special for many children who can’t afford to travel to our art center to get the experience.
WHAM has been doing events in Surprise, Peoria, El Mirage, Glendale, Avondale, Goodyear and Buckeye and reached an estimated 15,000 kids over the past 4 years.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, several of our scheduled events were canceled this past spring. We are optimistic that the events will open up again in the near future and we will again be taking art to the parks and festivals.
During our GoFundMe campaign, we not only reached our goal through online and private checks, but we exceeded it with some matching funds. The funds will be used to purchase a new enclosed trailer with security locks on the wheels, install lighting on the trailer and outside WHAM for security, replace the equipment that was in trailer, and purchase needed art supplies as well.
“For Those Without a Voice” is an service organization based in Glendale, which gets things done with urgency to reverse the misfortunes of children and animals. Their director, Shari Miller, reached out to WHAM to say they would match up to $5,000 to help our WHAM on WHEELS program. We are so thankful to their foundation.
Another organization we received generous support from was the Gyder Family Fund, who is a supporter of many arts organizations in the West Valley. As well as so many individuals in our community who sent donations to WHAM through the mail to support our efforts to keep this popular and much-needed art resource in the West Valley.
We are blessed to have such wonderful supporters during this time when people are out of work and worried about the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I also want to thank Independent Newsmedia — including Matt Roy at the Daily Independent and Jason Stone at the Surprise Independent — who have given WHAM wonderful news coverage over the past years to help get our stories to the public.
Thank you all.
Connie Whitlock is executive director at WHAM. Visit wham-art.org.