Raise Your Paddles: Poly Hosts Auction to Celebrate Upcoming Arts Center


Jordan Millar, Managing Editor

For the first time, Poly hosted an Arts For Arts Auction and Celebration on March 13, which Head of Arts Michael Robinson explained was meant to serve as “the culminating event for the long campaign for the new arts center.” Back in October of 2022, according to a Polygon article, the school held a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the new building’s construction, which commenced in the summer of 2022. The new arts center is set to provide ample space and new facilities for students involved in performing arts, dance, music, and visual arts. But the Arts for Arts Celebration was “a wrap-up of both the process for fundraising…as well as kind of a celebratory conclusion of that campaign,” Robinson said.  

Both Robinson and the Charles and Valerie Diker Chair of Visual Arts Laura Coppola, noted that the event was also meant to help supplement the funds that the school already raised for the new arts center. Robinson added that as part of the evening, fundraising would be held “specifically for areas that we’re still trying to get more additional support for,” and that there would be a form of a “wishlist of contributions,” in which people could donate to. “The development office had the idea of reaching out to Poly families and other Poly connections to see about donating works of art to then be auctioned off, and all of the proceeds for the auction would go towards the building,” Coppola said. 

The auction included a variety of works – in fact, according to Coppola, “There are a number of Poly families that are immersed in the art world and have been able to donate works by really renowned contemporary artists like Jeff Koons or Louise Nevelson…a Poly parent whose a glass artist named Jamie Harris.” In addition to works created by professional artists, the event also featured the work of Poly students themselves. “[the Visual Arts Department] tried to see about getting student artists to either donate their works or at least display their works during the gala to show the vibrancy of what’s happening at Poly and what we hope people will see in the new arts center,” Coppola said. Student works included winners of the Winter Visual Arts Competition this year, as well as, according to Robinson, “a great Lower School collaborative piece made by first graders that is [about] 83 inches by 48 inches.” Robinson added that he even created a piece of his own for the auction portion of the event: a small doll-sized sculptural garment entitled “Rumplestiltskin’s Daughter.” 

The Advancement Office’s preparation for the Arts For Arts Celebration began “at least a year ago, maybe more like 16 to 18 months ago,” according to Robinson. Operations, event planning, and Communications were all involved in the planning process. “There’s a committee of parents and trustees and myself and Advancement people that have worked through this process [throughout] the year to help put those things together,” Robinson said. “There have been some very generous and supportive families who have [done] everything from making recommendations to the professional auctioneer, to the headliner events, to decorations and all those things.” In addition to the auction, Robinson noted that there would also be a headline performance event, a DJ, and even student performances. 

“Our programs are growing and we want to be able to accommodate the growing number of students who are involved in the arts programs, and hope to encourage students in the future that they have beautiful spaces in order to show their work and perform their work,” Coppola said. “It’s really exciting for the community to see artists’ works that are usually in big galleries and big museums and to see how connected Poly is as well to important cultural icons.”

“It’s been a very long time since Poly had an event like this at all, obviously COVID and the pandemic had a big impact on what we could do,” Robinson said. “But I think there’s a lot of joy in this event.”