Volunteering for SNAG has been such a rewarding experience. It has given me the opportunity to cultivate new skills, work with others (I normally work alone, so it’s always great to get a chance to work in a group!) and use my energy to benefit an organization that I believe in.

 

When I joined the social events committee I was focused on the fun aspect of the conference. What can we do to make it an enjoyable experience, and one that fosters connection and community? I had no idea that we would also play a role in direct fundraising as well. Being able to contribute in the planning of the fundraising event has been an especially rewarding experience, to know that all the work we are putting in to raise money has the potential to make a real difference for SNAG. In the morning co-chair Britta Kauppila and I will be speaking with Gwynne Rukenbrod, executive director of SNAG, about how to incorporate a new sponsor and raise even more money during the fundraising event. The three of us will be brainstorming ideas on how both SNAG and the sponsor can benefit from a relationship, and how to work it in a natural way that will enhance the guest experience during the event.

 

Now let me back up for a moment. When the social events committee first formed all we had was a list of events to plan; the pin swap, pin swap after party, final night party, and exhibition fundraiser. We were given a budget, and from there it was up to us to figure out venues and logistics, plan a theme, find entertainment, and find ways to raise money for SNAG. The three co-chairs Britta, Emily and Dominique had some ideas that they had been thinking about for the events that got the ball rolling for the ccommittee at our first meetings. One idea that was heavily stressed was that we come up with a new way to exhibit work during the fundraiser; which had been for many years a fashion show, the Exhibition in Motion. There had been a lot of feedback that the fashion show format did not showcase the jewelry enough, and that the exhibiting pieces were hard to see and the clothing distracted from the jewelry. We brainstormed a lot of different ideas and creative ways to showcase the exhibition. Many of the ideas involved ways that people could interact with and see the jewelry up close. At the same time we were also considering ideas for entertainment during the event, a photo booth was brought up and it sparked an idea. What if instead of doing a photo booth where you put on silly boas and use props like giant sunglasses and funny hats, you got to put on fabulous pieces of jewelry? I had just heard of an exhibition called Play for Display in Sweden where people attending the exhibition could try on the jewelry pieces. The exhibition’s mission was to strengthen the connection between the audience and the work. So often you are only able to view pieces through glass, jewelry is meant to be worn and experienced. I loved this idea and thought it would be interesting to try something like that at SNAG. And that is how the Interactive Red Carpet Exhibition was born. The red carpet aspect was added to enhance our theme for the event, “A Night of Glamour and Gold” which we chose to be a variation on the conference theme “From Grains to Gold.”

 

As a group the social events committee decided to hold our events at the conference hotel. Minneapolis is a great city with a ton of great venues, but we felt that this was the best way to use our budget and to encourage the highest attendance to the events. There are plenty of opportunities to see the city and venture away from the hotel such as the gallery crawl and the studio crawl. The logistics committee has done a great job of planning these touring events, and has included shuttles to make it easier for conference goers to get around.

 

As part of the entertainment for the evening we have a local favorite game of BLINGO planned. BLINGO is a fun version of bingo where the grand prize winner of the evening gets a fabulous bejeweled chalice. Britta and the other two members of the social events committee, Patricia Schmidt and Melissa Lovingood, are currently working on securing prize donations to give away during the game in addition to the chalice.

Much of the overall event planning is complete, so for the past few weeks my focus has been on the exhibition. I have taken on many of the responsibilities in planning the exhibition. I wrote the initial draft for the call to entry to find pieces to exhibit, which was then edited and distributed by SNAG. I also wrote up event descriptions to be included in marketing and printed conference materials. Britta and I reached out to our contacts to get the call for entry out in addition to SNAG’s efforts. Once the call deadline was up we carefully went through the entries and selected the exhibiting artists. I sent out acceptance and rejection emails, and am currently coordinating with the accepted artists to confirm their place in the exhibition and work out logistical details. Below is a sneak peek at the exhibition, make sure you get your tickets during conference registration to join in the fun of trying some of these pieces on!

 

In the beginning we had all these ideas about having a vegas style game room and all these prizes which we wanted to get jewelry donations for, and have cigarette girls walking around with jewelry on trays. We kept adding ideas and planning this grand event in our minds. Then reality set in and we realized that with only four of us on a fairly small budget there was no way to make all of it happen. We paired down to the essentials, and now I think we have a solid event planned that we are confident about. There are so many details that come up during the planning of these events. In the end you have to decide what can you execute well? What will make the most people happy? We have put a lot of work into making a fun event and to raise money for SNAG, I hope to see some of you there!

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