Imagine! — supporting artists and the St. Francis Scholarship Fund for 19 years

Imagine! — supporting artists and the St. Francis Scholarship Fund for 19 years

By Alexandra Thurstone G’80, ’84, Head of School

As most of you know, we had our second of two major fundraising galas, the Imagine Art Auction and Scholarship Fundraiser, on January 30th.  Next year will be a truly momentous year, as we will celebrate the 20th year of the event.  We are already working on how to make the 20th Imagine particularly special.  However, before we move on, I want to make sure the SFS community knows why Imagine is so special, because many of you may not realize how it works.

First of all, there are two important purposes of Imagine.  The first is the one with which you are all familiar:  to raise awareness about and funds for our Scholarship Fund. At St. Francis, we believe that any student who deserves a St. Francis education should be able to have one regardless of their family’s financial means. Throughout our history, we have had an unusual commitment to financial aid.  Today, nearly half of our student body receives some form of scholarship support, and these funds represent nearly a third of our operating budget — both of these figures are significantly higher than both the national and local average for Independent Schools.  We do this because we truly believe that an SFS education would not be nearly as powerful if we were not able to create this wonderful and diverse student body with the help of our Scholarship Fund, and we simply could not do it without the support of the Imagine Art Auction. Imagine15-038

The second major purpose of Imagine is to help promote and cultivate a vibrant art community in Louisville.  Since the inception of the auction, it was meant to support the artists as well as the school, and not just by exposing their work to the 400 or so guests at the event, and generating new buyers for their work.  What I realized that many people still do not know is that Imagine supports the artists financially, too — artists do not donate their work; they set the minimum bids, and they get half of the selling price garnered at Imagine.  Therefore, when guests purchase art, they are supporting artists in Louisville and the region, as well as the St. Francis Scholarship Fund.

I also want to mention that we had a Special Honoree at Imagine this year: Gaela Erwin, who has been our Artist-in-Residence at the High School for the last 10 years, and in that time, Gaela has been involved with Imagine – nearly half of its entire existence. After 10 years service at SFS, Gaela made the decision to retire this December.  We have been so lucky to have one of Kentucky’s best artists (and one of the best in the nation) at St. Francis for a decade, and we are very sorry to see her go.  However, Gaela hand-picked her successor in Julie Leidner, who started with us in January, so we know we are in good hands.

All in all, Imagine was a great success, meeting its fundraising goals and netting over $70,000 for the Scholarship Fund.  Just as importantly, though, the varied and eclectic crowd all learned something about St. Francis and supported the School as well as the Louisville art community.  If you haven’t been to Imagine yet, please make plans to join us next year for our exciting 20th Anniversary.