3Arts puts the squeeze on its audience
  • Deanna Isaacs
  • 3Arts puts the squeeze on.

As anyone in fund-raising can tell you, “the ask” is a delicate moment. 3Arts closed the presentations at their very polished annual awards program Monday with a technology-aided new wrinkle on it— a direct pitch for bucks, not anytime later, but right now, with your friends and colleagues watching.

As the house lights came up in the Museum of Contemporary Art auditorium, event cochair Lisa Yun Lee asked everyone to take out their cell phones, turn them on, and text a donation.

Results would immediately be tallied on the giant screen that had been used to introduce the ten winners of this year’s $15,000 cash awards.

Winners had been chosen during a nine-month process that involved 35 local nominators and five jury panels of national arts leaders.

Lee’s announcement was followed by some long, uncomfortable moments while the audience stared down a big zero on the screen.

Finally—whew—$500 popped up.

And stalled.

More uncomfortable squirms.

Then—whew—$700, followed in blessedly more rapid increments to $1,250, when the audience was released to make its way upstairs, where food, drink, and music awaited and the continuing tally would be projected on a wall.

By evening’s end, 3Arts had netted over $8,000 in texted donations.

This year’s winners all have compelling personal stories that were brilliantly communicated on that video screen.

And if the acting thing doesn’t work out for winner and actor Kelli Simpkins, who handled the live speaking duties for the group, she should consider a run for president.

The 2013 3Arts Award roster:

• Marta Garcia, teaching artist
• Mierka Girten, actor
• Lisa Kaplan, musician
• Irena Knezevic, visual artist
• Ronnie Kuller, musician
• Michael Rodriguez, dancer
• Vershawn Sanders-Ward, choreographer
• Robert Schleifer, teaching artist
• Kelli Simpkins, actor
• Cauleen Smith, visual artist