'What's in the Box' gala a good surprise for Saint John Arts Centre

Last year, the Saint John Arts Centre's What's in the Box gala had one ticket left in the raffle once all the mystery artwork had been handed out.

This year, so many entered that the 10-sided translucent bowl was still more than half full of entries from hopeful art fans looking for a chance to buy a blind-packaged painting or art piece.

More than 175 people attended the annual gala last Thursday night at the Saint John Arts Centre, according to events coordinator Kelly Cunningham. She said that's about a 20 per cent increase from last year's event, which was the first in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've had excellent feedback from artists and the attendees," Cunningham said. "Folks have just been commenting how on much fun they had, which is what we want to hear."

The event, which has run for the past 14 years, raises money for artist rights fees that are paid to artists that exhibit with the non-profit charity. Cunningham said the final fundraising totals including gala tickets are still being calculated, but there were 58 artworks donated to the event and they all sold at a price of $100 each.

"This is an event where we see the level of interest, the excitement when folks have their name drawn. They can't wait to see what piece they've gotten," she said.

The event also featured catering by catering by Chef's Table and a 360-degree photo booth from Borrow Me 360. For those who didn't draw a box, there was a one-night art show with 100 per cent of sales going to artists, and Cunningham said the first piece was sold "in minutes" and they received a few more orders the next day.

Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal