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What started as a small event for New York artists to connect turned into an official nonprofit organization expanding across the country — including a chapter in St. Pete.
In 2017, co-founders Dasha Boswell and Ris Igrec created Artists For Impact after realizing young artists lack spaces and opportunities.
Their mission statement says the organization is “simultaneously providing a platform for artists and giving back to the communities around us.”
Director of the St. Pete chapter, Willow Hart, describes Artists For Impact as “a community organization whose goal is to uplift artists and support our community through the power of art.”
Hart learned about the organization while working at an art studio in Mamaroneck NY. Boswell and Igrec booked the venue to host their first event. They raised a total of $465 for Fútbol For Kids.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is a really cool thing for high schoolers to be doing’,” Hart explains. “They had an art and music event to raise money for a local nonprofit.”
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Let’s Keep It Going
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After a successful first event, Artists For Impact continued hosting events for artists. People freely expressed creativity while raising funds for other nonprofits.
By July 2019, Artists for Impact became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with events in New York, Connecticut and Washington DC. Not too long after, COVID-19 brought a halt to the organization’s plans.
Eckerd College Chapter
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In 2020, Boswell and Igrec opened board applications, and Hart quickly jumped on the opportunity.
“I applied and one of my goals as a board member was to start an Eckerd College chapter,” Hart says. “I was president for the first year that it existed at Eckerd.”
Hart says Eckerd’s chapter hosts two events each school year. According to the chapter’s website, “they held two artisan fairs raising $2485.33” their first year for nonprofits such as the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and Community Action Stops Abuse.
The Beginning of St. Pete’s AFI
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After graduating in May 2022, Hart didn’t want their AFI career to end.
“I spent the past the 10 months talking to people, networking, and building up the St. Pete chapter committee,” they say.
St. Pete’s Artists For Impact chapter held its first event in June 2023 at Coastal Creative.
“We had a Pride month fundraiser which was actually our first-ever fundraiser reserved for AFI,” Hart says. “Every other fundraiser we’ve done previously has been for a different nonprofit. We wanted to have a fundraiser so we could have a budget going forward.”
The fundraiser displayed Tampa Bay visual artists’ pieces, live music performances, spoken word poetry and community resources sharing information.
“Artists get to sell their art, trade with other artists, network, and learn about different community organizations,” they say.
Hart says this Pride event raised $1,400.
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Artists For Impact hopes to host another event this fall at Studio@620.
“We are in the very beginning stages of organizing our next event,” Hart says. “But, we will definitely have an event coming up this fall.”
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Find updates on the organization’s events on Instagram.
Originally published in The Gabber Newspaper