Society / The Seen

An Evening of Art and Advocacy Raises More Than $1.5 Million in Transformative Funds

Inside DCAC's Flawless Fête

BY // 10.02.23
photography Tamytha Cameron

You know you’re attending an event “in the arts,” when your salad more closely resembles a parmesan bird’s nest and one piece of endive is the only lettuce-like ingredient. If it sounds like I’m being snarky, allow me to be abundantly clear: I eat this stuff up.  An art event also empowers its attendees to dabble in more adventurous interpretations of cocktail attire. For Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s (DCAC) Art for Advocacy event, I showed up in a black dress with a voluminous sleeve to an unmarked warehouse transformed into an art gallery. And it felt downright cosmopolitan. 

Fashionable philanthropists flocked to “Paint a Picture of Hope” by viewing (and bidding on) an inspiring curation of 170 pieces of art in the evening’s silent auction. In addition, eight show-stopping, large-scale works were auctioned off for the evening’s crescendo, aiming to bring the evening’s earnings to the million-dollar mark.

The beneficiary? Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, whose mission is to provide justice and restore hope to child abuse victims across Dallas County. Since the agency’s founding in 1991, DCAC has provided life-changing services– including coordinating the investigation, prosecution, and healing services to the most severe cases–  to more than 100,000 child abuse victims in every single zip code in the county. 

Christi Meril, Brandon Harris, Melissa Ellis (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)
Christi Meril, Brandon Harris, Melissa Ellis (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)

Adriane Crosland, Megan Filgo, and Kacy Tolleson co-chaired the flawless fête, with Melissa Ellis serving as curatorial chair. Stephanie and John Roberts graciously hosted the event in their warehouse space. In addition to benefiting the most worthy cause in DCAC, Art for Advocacy exposed the (sold-out) crowd to a spectrum of talented artists with varying degrees of name recognition. 

Admiring a large black and white photograph of Leon Bridges from 2014, I met the artist, Will Von Bolton, who captured the moment. We exchanged pleasantries, and Von Bolton anecdotally mentioned that it was he who told Todd Bridges that he really ought to go by Leon. Would Leon Bridges be Leon Bridges if we knew him as Todd? Who’s to say

Regardless, meeting an artist while interfacing with their work provides a more profound way to experience art — an indelible new dimension.

Irish S. Burch (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)
Irish S. Burch (Photo by Tamytha Cameron)

Surprisingly, the highlight of the evening wasn’t the heart-racing live auction where big donors dropped big dollars for big pieces of art from big names. Rather, it was the heartfelt extemporaneous speech from DCAC President and CEO Irish S. Burch. Before Burch ever had the fancy title, she was a child abuse investigator. Her words captured the attention of every person in that warehouse and inspired many to open our wallets a little bit wider. 

Donors painted a compelling picture of hope, indeed. In total, Art for Advocacy raised $1.6 million dollars for the children and families the agency serves, including more than $830,000 raised in night-of giving alone. Talk about a masterclass in the art of giving.

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