Timeraiser – Capital Style

Kimberly Senf (Twitter) is a displaced Montrealer living in Ottawa, by way of Halifax. She’s a librarian by trade,  currently working for the government as an information manager, organizing and categorizing data and information by day. An avid bookworm, she loves to visit the library and roam the aisles, lugging all-too-many books home each time. Dedicated knitter, coffee lover and garage sale enthusiast, she enjoys wandering around Ottawa neighbourhoods to find previously undiscovered pockets of the city. She’s also one of the co-founders of the retired Montreal blog, The Tragically Unhip.

Imagine bringing home an enticing, brand new piece of art you didn’t spend a penny on. If you’ve ever been to a Timeraiser event and won artwork, you’ll know exactly what this feels like. Saturday night in Ottawa marked Timeraiser’s fifth event in our capital city and, like in years prior, it brought people out in spades to enjoy local artwork and spirited conversations with non-profit agencies. It got people bidding their time in order to have their favourite art pieces living atop their mantles for years to come.

Via @Stuart_Buist on Twitter

In case you don’t know, Timeraiser functions as a volunteer fair and a silent art auction – with an intriguing twist: volunteer hours are used to bid on artwork, rather than money. Asking attendees to volunteer their time rather than open their wallets levels the playing field of interested art aficionados. Purchasing art is an experience not everyone can afford, and volunteering time to a cause of your choice is certainly a unique way to open up the bidding (and the artwork) to anyone with an interest in volunteerism.

One of the volunteer tables at the Timeraiser event (via @HDelphine on Twitter)

The event works as follows: over the course of several months, a variety of artwork is purchased from local artists. Non-profit agencies are approached to participate in the event. On the night of the event, a smattering of these agencies invite attendees into conversation regarding the type of volunteer for which they are looking, and ideally an excellent match is made. After a couple of drinks and a handful of coversations, anyone with the aim of bidding on art surely has their eye on a couple of pieces. Once it’s announced that bidding is open, everyone can bid to their heart’s content on any of the artwork available, but in the spirt of fairness they will only be able to win one piece. Each artwork has a maximum number of 100 volunteer hours that particpants can bid, in order to give winners enough time over the course of the year to complete the volunteer pledge they’ve made to an organization. At the end of the year, each successful art winner/volunteer is presented with the piece they won at the previous Timeraiser, and the fun starts all over again. Sound intruiging? It surely takes the excitement of the silent art auction up a notch or two.

One of the pieces of art up for bid (via @CharityVillage on Twitter)

After hearing about Timeraiser through a friend, I was immediately entranced by the innovative idea and got in touch with the organizers to volunteer. The entire process of setting up for the event is transparent and available to any interested party on the Timeraiser planning site for each city, which is an aspect of the organization that drew my interest. From the moment I met with Amanda, the communications manager for Timeraiser, I was enveloped into the fold and given the go-ahead to tweet, poster and spread the word for the event as far and wide as possible. On the night of the event, getting to work with such an engaged group of people and volunteers was a fantastic introduction to the Timeraiser experience. The goal of the evening was to raise 5,000 volunteer hours for Ottawa, and we came in just shy of the total, at approximately 4,400 hours pledged.

As a volunteer I was encouraged to let other participants bid on artwork, rather than bidding on it myself, so I must admit my new challenge is the dilemma between volunteering with Timeraiser or bidding on next year’s selection of artwork. If the pieces that were on offer this year by Paul Sharp, Tony Taylor, Norah Taylor and Dylan Farrell were any indication of what’s to come, it’s going to be a difficult choice.

Did any of you attend last weekend’s Timeraiser event? We want to hear what you bid on (because this sounds like such a neat experience!)