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  • Writer's pictureSim Luttin


Like most people I love a good event, however I think I just about love throwing them more than simply attending them - especially when the event strikes a cord with the guests.In addition to creating contemporary jewellery,

I run the gallery at Arts Project Australia. This role includes managing and curating exhibitions, as well as running Arts Project's leasing and gallery volunteer programs. I am also fortunate enough to manage and coordinate special events for Arts Project, and most recently, I managed Dining with Art - a fundraising dinner held in Arts Project's Northcote gallery space.The idea to pair a dinner with an exhibition was first suggested early in 2012 by gallery assistant and food writer Emiko Davies, and simultaneously, I had been looking for a fundraising project to bring to the gallery space that would engage audiences in more meaningful ways outside of our regular openings.

This was further inspired by presentations given at the Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV) Conference "FUTURE VISION: The Public Gallery in the 21st Century" at MONA last year, where it became clear that organisations such as ours, need to be creative in the way they develop and nurture relationships with new and existing audiences. Meaningful, interactive experiences that occur outside of regular gallery hours, is where the public gallery sector needs to head in oder to develop it's profile in a saturated cultural market. So with support from Arts Project's Executive Director Sue Roff and it's Board, we gave it a go, and after creating a unique Dining with Art, I can say that on this occasion this approach was a huge success.

Guests wined and dined late into the evening at the fundraiser on March 14, which Arts Project presented as part of theMelbourne Food and Wine Festival Umbrella Event program. The event catered for 50 VIP guests who sat at one long specially designed table, while surrounded by art from the exhibition At the Table. The night was a resounding success, with guests immersing themselves in the art created by Arts Project Australia artists, earthy food by Rob Kabboord of Merricote and wine byCarlei Wines. A highlight was the Kiln baked poussin and baked apple that Rob Kabboord cooked in the Arts Project kiln. As temperamental as the process was, it was worth the wait and will certainly be talked about!

Political satirist Bryan Dawe kept the punters entertained throughout the evening, as guests took advantage of the VIP preview of At the Table, purchasing fourteen artworks throughout the evening. Emiko Davies, curator of At the Table said of the work that, "[the exhibition] explores the theme of food in its many facets in the work of Arts Project Australia’s artists. Through painting, drawing, ceramics, mixed media, printmaking and digital art, At the Table explores the continuing, evolving relationship between food and artist... [this] exhibition brings together a wide range of works spanning a 20 year period that reflect upon this all-important cultural subject: food." The exhibition runs until April 16.

An event like Dining with Art takes a lot of time to develop and requires a dedicated, collaborative effort in order for the event to come together. We worked with sixteen supporters over four months to create a fundraiser that people wouldn't easily forget. The supporters we brought on board were amazing - truly they were. I have made lasting connections and even developed friendships with many of them and they include: Merricote and 3sidedsquare (who designed my website last year), as well as local traders Carlei Wines, Fowlers Flowers, ceramic artist Andrei Davidoff, Melbourne Community Farmers' Markets, Glenn Tebble Homewares, Third Drawer Down, Beraldo Coffee, Rydges Bell City, SOFITEL Luxury Hotels, Leonard Joel, Glencross Woodworks, Paper-Go-Round, Web Prophets and Bryan Dawe as MC. I couldn't believe how generous and supportive the local community was, especially knowing how busy and stretched everyone was balancing their own busy schedules. It was really humbling, and I think in the end, eveyone got a lot out of the experience and will work together again at some stage in the future.

I had a blast working on this project on behalf of Arts Project Australia, and hope that I will have the opportunity to work on many more for the organisation in coming years.

[Image Credits: Penelope Hunt © Arts Project Australia]


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