Local nonprofit promoting and funding the arts

SHELLEY — The Idaho Nonprofit Center recently recognized a local nonprofit for its work in supporting the arts.

On November 16, the Idaho Nonprofit Center celebrated Idaho Philanthropy Day statewide with an award ceremony to recognize the philanthropic work of nonprofit organizations, foundations, businesses and individuals nominated by their peers. The Shelley Supporters of the Arts was recognized as one of Idaho Philanthropy Day’s Outstanding Nonprofits for the SSA’s efforts in building community and arts appreciation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SSA began nearly two years ago as a volunteer-run nonprofit organization investing in the arts in Shelley and surrounding areas. The nonprofit operates out of donated space at the North Bingham County District Library in Shelley.

“We’re not an organization that does art,” explained Eric Wittwer, a member of the SSA’s Board. “We are an organization that funds art efforts.”

Funds held and disbursed by the SSA come primarily from generous donations from community members, businesses and some fundraising events, such as its recent October rummage sale. Proceeds from these events go to local art promotion.

The organization supports local art by providing grants and sponsorships to artists and events in southeastern Idaho. Many of these arts programs exist as part of local schools, including Snake River High School, Shelley High School and Blackfoot High School, among others.

In 2019, the SSA received a grant of $2,500 from the Gladys E. Langroise Advised Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation to purchase sheet music for Shelley High School, Hobbs Middle School and Stuart Elementary School.

The organization also gave grants to the I-Family Homeschool Choir for its New Horizons Choir, an advanced choir of students ages 14 to18. The choir used the funds to purchase two years’ worth of sheet music.

The SSA also provides support for community events.

Over the past few months, it helped create a series of window murals in businesses along State Street in Shelley for Independence Day and Spud Day, as well as a Chalk Art Competition sponsored in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club and the Friends of the North Bingham County District Library.

“A lot of people were being unkind to each other, and we wanted to bring positivity, optimism and happiness to the community,” said Jacqueline Wittwer, who, in addition to serving on the SSA Board, helped organize both events. “We knew Spud Day would look different this year, and we wanted to help the Kiwanis Club put on a successful event.”

The SSA recently joined with North Bingham Historical Park for its 24th of July celebration. The event was ultimately canceled due to COVID-19, but the two organizations look forward to partnering again.

In June, the SSA provided funds to the Bingham Arts Council for its Plein Air Paint Out event.

“Plein Air Paint Out is a festival, exhibition and competition,” according to the event’s web page. “Artists visit beautiful Bingham County in Eastern Idaho to paint, draw and sketch the natural landscape.

The SSA also provided financial support to two other visual arts events: the Bingham County High School Art Competition, which included public, home and charter schooled students and the Bingham County Arts Juried Art Competition for artists 18 years old and older. Both events were co-sponsored by CJ’s Art Gallery, an art gallery in Blackfoot located within the Candy Jar.

The SSA focuses on providing funds that will impact arts organizations beyond the life of individual grants. To that end, some money for the Bingham County arts competitions was used by the Candy Jar to install an art hanging system, which allows the gallery to install rotating displays of artwork without damaging walls.

The Candy Jar’s next art show will feature affordable miniature affordable miniature works created by local artists with holiday gifting in mind. The SSA is thrilled to have been able to contribute to the sustainability of this and other future events.

“SSA has been a fantastic organization that’s done things to help people from high school through adulthood with great opportunities,” said Tim Goodworth, Snake River High School art teacher.

The SSA is an active and vibrant organization dedicated to local improvement. Residents, artists and teachers in the area looking for art funding are encouraged to contact the organization and write to Tasha Bere, Lisa Clemens, or Kathleen Nuttall at shelleyartsidaho@gmail.com or P.O. Box 127, Shelley, ID, 83274.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article, Kjerstin Stanavige, is Jacqueline Wittwer’s daughter.

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