Art For Unity Charlotte (A4UC) was founded by D’Mya Sanford, in June 2016 going into her junior year at Ardrey Kell High School. It is ran by her, executive director, Charlotte Sanford, and a committee of college students, Priscilla Banuelos, Luke Gura, George Kostantinis, and Shaina Platt.
1st Charity Art Show and Silent Auction
After hearing about the Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy in 2016, D’Mya reached out to local artists through social media and presented them with her idea to create a charity art show to benefit the victims. To her surprise, five artists from Ardrey Kell immediately replied, and agreed to create and donate art for the event. D’Mya researched venues, negotiated prices, created written agreements, managed multiple people, ran business meetings, recruited volunteers, obtained sponsors and vendors, advertised on social media, and created this website.
The Art For Unity Charlotte 1st Charity Art Show and Silent Auction in August 2016 was a huge success, and 100% of the profits were donated to One Orlando fund for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
2nd Charity Art Show and Silent Auction
During Spring recruitment, Art For Unity Charlotte expanded from five to seventeen artists including more students from Ardrey Kell High School, UNC Charlotte, SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), and SCPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, OH), and a vendor from UNC Wilmington.
In April 2017, Art For Unity Charlotte held their 2nd Charity Art Show and Silent Auction. A large percentage of the proceeds were donated to Safe Alliance (serving victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault) and Lily Pad Haven, Inc. (providing housing and services for victims of human trafficking). A representative from each organization spoke at the event to share important information about their cause.
3rd Charity Art Show and Silent Auction
Art For Unity Charlotte added more artists including students from UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of South Carolina in late 2017.
The Art For Unity Charlotte 3rd Charity Art Show and Silent Auction and Silent Auction was sponsored by and held at The Ballantyne Hotel, in December 2017 to help raise awareness on mental wellness. A representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Charlotte shared his personal story as well as gave a compelling speech. A large portion of the event proceeds was donated to NAMI - Charlotte .
4th Charity Art Show and Silent Auction
Art For Unity Charlotte continued to expand. In the spring of 2018, we grew from the original five artists to thirty artists and six hosts including more students from Ardrey Kell High School, Myers Park High School, Nation Ford High School, South Meck High School, Levine Middle College, Appalachian State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, and University of South Carolina.
We celebrated our two year anniversary at our 4th Charity Art Show and Silent Auction on June 2, 2018. We had a great time while raising money for a worthy cause. The proceeds from our event benefited No Kid Hungry North Carolina, to help end childhood hunger by connecting kids to effective but under-utilized federal nutrition programs.
5th Charity Art Show and Silent Auction
Our art shows were created to benefit charitable causes. While helping local charities we learned that our young artists were receiving unexpected benefits as well. It was brought to our attention by a few parents that our art shows have provided their teenage kids an outlet for creative expressions, opportunity to collaborate with their peers, build leadership skills, and help others in need.
In July 2018, Art For Unity Charlotte created the official Art For Unity Art Program that is fiscally sponsored by the Young Entrepreneurs Society (YES), Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The purpose of this art program is to provide a platform for local high school and college artists to showcase their artistic talent, improve their social and leadership skills, make new friends/connections, and support a charitable cause.
Our 5th Charity Art Show and Silent Auction was held in December 2018. Laura Fox-Wallis, NBCT, Visual Art Instructor, was our keynote speaker who spoke about the importance of art. The proceeds from our event benefited our non-profit art program and a percentage was donated to the Hands N Feet Foundation. The Hands N Feet Foundation provides the means for the less fortunate in Greater Charlotte, NC area to rise out of homelessness.
6th Charity Art Show and Silent Auction
The proceeds from our 6th Show benefited our charitable art program and a portion was donated to The Relatives,
a non-profit organization in Charlotte, NC, that keeps kids safe, families together, and prepares youth and young adults to be healthy, productive, engaged members of the community.
"Our mission is to better our community, country, and ultimately the world by sharing our love of art to help support charitable causes and raise awareness of societal issues." --D'Mya Sanford, Founder and President