This time of year there is always excitement in the air. There are parties to attend, charity events to organize and always the quest to find the perfect gift.

The Art League of Bonita combines all three of these goals during Off the Walls, their annual fundraiser to benefit the Art League’s children’s education scholarships.

Mark Brown painting for Off the Walls
"Still Life with Fruit" by Mark H. Brown part of Off the Walls December 2009. Vlaue $275

For those who have never attended, here’s how it works. Tickets are purchased for $150 for the event which begins at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4. Guests arrive, mingle, enjoy catered hors d’oeuvres, wine and punch and at 6:30 ticket numbers begin being called. When a guest’s number is called, they select a piece of artwork to take home. The artwork is valued from $275 to $6000. So everyone goes home with a piece of artwork worth far more than their ticket price. The evening finished with the very popular coffee and dessert bar.

"Day Dreaming" by Ludmila Curilova part of Off the Walls December 2009. Value with Frame $1009.85

While the evening ends at 8:30pm, Off the Walls actually continues throughout the year. All of the money raised goes to scholarships for students in the children’s education program at the Art League.

In 2008 the Art League of Bonita Springs awarded $36,000 in scholarships. In 2009 the Art League has already awarded $49,000.

“Twice as many parents requested financial aid for their children this summer and fall,” said Susan Bridges, Executive Director of the Art League. “Some lost their jobs or took pay cuts to keep their jobs. The point is they wanted to provide their children with our wonderful programs, and needed our help.”

More than 60 percent of students enrolled in Art League classes receive some type of scholarship. All classes in the Children’s Education program are available to scholarship students. Classes include painting, pottery, clay animation, drama, movie making, photography, dance and more. Pricing for a 5-week semester ranges from $45 to $112  (dance semesters are 19 weeks and range from $158.50 to $201 for the semester). Part, or all, of the tuition can be covered by a scholarship. Most students are eligible for some type of scholarship.

“Studies show children who participate in arts are more likely to succeed as adults,” Bridges said. “We work closely with each family, carefully crafting every scholarship. This year we chose not to turn anyone in need away.”

David Gordon painting for Off the Walls
Untitled by David E. Gordon part of Off the Walls December 2009. Value $600

Attendees of Off the Walls are giving a life-long gift of art to a child, while also taking home a beautiful and entirely unique piece of art for themselves, or a cherished friend.

For a complete listing of Art League programming and events call 495-8989; visit the Center for the Arts at 26100 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs; follow on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Artleague; or visit on-line at www.artcenterbonita.org.

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