Linda rogers "untitled" Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press
After raising $2 million and splitting up $75,000 to award two nonprofit organizations in the region, the founders of the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee will soon celebrate their donors at their first art show exhibit.
The Women’s Fund and Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts will host the “Journeys of Women” exhibit at the new McKinney Cultural Arts Center at Booker T. Washington School, 103 Franklin Ave., from Oct. 19-Nov. 2.
“We knew we wanted to have an event up here and I had always toyed with the idea of ‘how do women see art?’ (and if) there are any differences between the way women see their work as an artist and men,” said Carol Transou, founder of Women’s Fund and member of the Women’s Fund Advisory Board. “This year, instead of having an event at someone’s home, where we talk a little bit about the Women’s Fund ... we just sort of stuck on this (art show).”
Transou said Women’s Fund, a fund of the East Tennessee Foundation that raises and awards grant money for nonprofit organizations helping low-income women and girls, grew out of conversations at the East Tennessee Foundation and Transou was able to recruit fellow founder and member of the advisory board Cynthia Burnley to help recruit others.
“Before we even established a board of advisors, we were really just a committee getting together monthly and making plans,” Burnley said. “We talked to a lot of people who ran foundations and one in particular, at the Cornerstone Foundation in Knoxville, gave us a lot of good advice.”
She said some advice they collected said that funds for nonprofits, rather than individuals, tend to see a better end result and can visually see the progress made through the foundation.
“We took that advice,” Burnley said. “We discussed it and that’s why we decided as a group to only fund nonprofit organizations that have projects that will help transform the lives of low-income women and girls in East Tennessee.”
Transou said they started the fund by calling women who would be interested in funding and being founders of the cause.
“We raised $2 million ... primarily from Knoxville and the Johnson City, Upper East Tennessee area,” she said.
Through that established endowment, Women’s Fund awarded two grants this past spring –– $15,000 to SISTERS of the Rainbow, a program at the Helen Ross McNabb Center in Knoxville, for a vocational case management program for drug and alcohol treatment; and $60,000 to the New Opportunity School for Women.
Burnley said the New Opportunity School for Women was founded to help women get jobs, build on skills and ultimately prepare women for the workforce.
“The money from the Women’s Fund will help them establish a site in Tennessee at Maryville College,” she said.
The art show will be featuring 37 artists who will exhibit a variety of pieces –– jewelry, sculptures, paintings and photography –– focused on the strength and power of women and girls in society, according to a Women’s Fund news release.
“We relied on the arts communities in the area –– Johnson City, Elizabethton, Kingsport, Bristol, Greeneville –– to get names of people that would be good to invite,” Burnley said. “There will be information there about the Women’s Fund, about the research and grants process that we did, and donation cards and what the Women’s Fund is, what it believes in and our mission.”
She said the Journeys of Women exhibit will be the other half of an art filled weekend in Jonesborough, as Fine Art in the Park will also be held next weekend.
Transou and Burnley said the grants already awarded would not have been possible without all the support from local donors and founders of the Fund.
“The purpose for this (art show) is to show appreciation to our donors, acquaint more people to Northeast Tennessee with the Women’s Fund and, of course, celebrate women in the arts,” Transou said.
For more information on the Women’s Fund or the East Tennessee Foundation, visit www.womensfundetn.org or www.easttennesseefoundation.org.