First, the plywood boards went up on downtown Sacramento storefronts.
Then, racial justice-themed murals were painted over them.
Now, the art is generating money to give back to the causes that inspired them — more money than originally anticipated.
Lina Washington, founder of Boards for Change didn’t know ahead of time that the plywood art would generate $20,000 for charitable causes when she helped start the initiative this summer.
In partnership with local downtown businesses, the ABC 10 sports anchor asked artists to paint images and messages inspired by racial justice protests this summer on the plywood boards store owners put up to protect businesses from possible looting or property destruction.
“It started with me, constantly scrolling on my phone in early June following the murder of George Floyd and the uproar we saw across the country,” Washington said. She added that the initial inspiration came from a social media post she saw from a friend and owner of Nekter Juice Bar in Midtown named Kimberley Prince, who had asked local artists on Instagram to decorate the boards outside her shop.
“It went from an Instagram conversation between friends to a community effort with artists,” Washington said.
About 50 murals have been painted on shop windows since this summer. Since then, Washington has worked with businesses to sell them in an auction and use the money to donate to local nonprofits serving Black youth in Sacramento through different educational programs, activities and mentoring.
“We said, ‘hey, maybe we give these pieces of art a permanent home,’” she said. “We started with a $1,000 goal and eclipsed that within a matter of hours. We upped it to $5,000. People just wanted to do something that they knew was coming back to the community.”
Boards for Change ended up raising $20,000 which will be distributed to 20 local organizations.
Washington also partnered with the local soccer team Sacramento Republic Football Club to have the boards displayed during games at Papa Murphy’s Park over the summer.
“There couldn’t be a better way to use our stadium and platform,” Ben Gumpert, president of the football team said, adding that the art display was a good substitute for the usual rowdy crowd of fans that wasn’t there because of the pandemic.
“The art in the stands was loud and spoke volumes in a different way,” he said.
Tamaira Sandifer is one of the organizations that received money from the auctions. She’s the founder and CEO of Studio T Arts and Entertainment, a nonprofit teaching the arts to underserved youth of color.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Sandifer said.
She said her organization had recently expanded their programming to help youth get workforce training. When they received the $1,000 from Boards for Change, Sandifer bought new computers for students to help them learn graphic design and videography.
“There’s so much power in the arts,” Sandifer said.
Square Root Academy, a nonprofit whose mission it is to introduce science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to underserved youth, received $1,000 from the art auction. Director Nicholas Haystings said the money will be used for the Scholars Playground, which includes free yoga classes and mindfulness training.
“It’s been greatly appreciated how the community has come together to really support keeping our kids engaged, because they’re having a tough time now,” Hastings said.
The Sacramento Republic Football Club and Boards for Change will be auctioning off 20 more boards this February for Black History Month, along with a pair of painted soccer cleats.
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