Fundraiser helps foster community for Winnipeg's women artists

A Winnipeg fundraiser is combining art and cupcakes to support women in the visual arts.

Mentoring Artists for Women's Art (MAWA) is a local non-profit charity that works to support women artists in the city. They are hosting their annual Over the Top! Art auction and cupcake party over the weekend.

"There are over 1,000 cupcakes made by MAWA volunteers and 165 works of art," said Shawna Dempsey, MAWA's co-executive director, on CBC's Weekend Morning.

"There is metal works, there is ceramics, there is print making, there is painting, there is sculpture, there is really something there for everybody."

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Dempsey said MAWA has been in the city for 33 years offering mentorships to developing artists and empowering women to build their practices.

"Sadly we are still in a situation where there is gender disparity in the visual arts in terms of representation in museum collections, top arts awards even the amount of money that male artist earns versus what a female artist earns there is a vast difference – 33 per cent," she said.

However, Winnipeg has a robust arts scene, which Dempsey said is likely linked to the work of MAWA.

"It's really helped to build a community of sharing which extends through the entire visual arts community," she said.

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MAWA also runs a cross-cultural art program where Indigenous women and newcomers can come and teach their traditional craft making as an art form.

"So it recognizes traditional craft as being a fine art skill, it provides employment and it's a way for all different communities to come together and make, kind of in the tradition of quilting bees," Dempsey said.

The annual fundraiser raises about 12 per cent of MAWA's annual revenue and is critical to its community programming, she added.

The event takes place all weekend. For more information visit the MAWA website.