Soft Touch Arts has announced plans of its second Art Auction Fundraiser, allowing guests the opportunity to grab unique works by your favourite local artists whilst also raising money for the charity. A hugely talented group of well-known and emerging artists have donated their artwork which will be auctioned on the night, along with a silent auction on selected artworks running prior to the event.

The Art Auction Fundraiser will take place on 1 October from 6-9pm and is a fantastic opportunity to acquire artwork from established artists and future stars of the art world, from both Leicestershire and further afield. Furthermore it will all take place whilst enjoying a fun event, drinks and canapés, safe in the knowledge that the money is going to an excellent cause. We caught up with Soft Touch Arts’ Business Development Director, Christina Wigmore, to find out more.

The Art Auction will allow people to support the work of Soft Touch Arts through buying some fantastic pieces of artwork, how did you come up with the concept for the event?

There are so many charity events which tend to follow the same black tie dinner format so as a creative charity we thought something a bit different that reflected our mission might be a good idea. Our work helps young people with creative talent in challenging life situations realise their potential and use art, media or music to build their confidence and life skills. Many of the artists that have got involved understand how powerful the arts can be as a way to improve confidence and wellbeing and make people feel good about themselves so in 2017 we put the idea out there for our first art auction and we were delighted how many artists came forward to help.

Tell us a little about the artists who have donated their artwork for the event?

Many of the artists taking part are well-known locally or nationally or are building up a reputation and starting to be noticed by the art world. We’ve got 9 artists who studied Fine Art at De Montfort University and have stayed in Leicester with studios at places like StudionAme and Two Queens and who exhibit locally, nationally and internationally. We’ve also had work donated by a Stoneygate art gallery Adore Fine Art and some of the young people from Soft Touch will have their artwork up for auction alongside the established artists which will be a great experience for them.

There’s also a silent auction taking place for some pieces, when can people begin to bid on these?

All the donated art will be on display in a 5-day exhibition at Soft Touch Arts from Tuesday 24th – Sat 28th September 1-6pm.  Some of the items will be marked as silent auction artwork and people can leave their bids for those pieces during that week. On the day of the auction all the art will be moved down to Mattioli Woods and displayed there for guests to view and they can continue to make silent bids between 6-7pm. The live auction starts at 7.15pm and silent bid winners will be announced after the live auction.    We’ll also be getting a brochure out early next week and sending it to all those who have booked tickets and it will be available to download from our website here:

We’ll also be taking email bids for those that can’t make the auction but would like to bid to [email protected].

Jonathon Costall artist
by Jonathon Costall

For those who aren’t familiar with Soft Touch Arts can you tell us a little bit more about the work you do as a charity? 

Since 1986 Soft Touch Arts has been using arts, media and music activities to unlock talent and build the aspirations and life skills of young people that are struggling to reach their potential. More than 34,000 children live in poverty in Leicester – we target those aged 13-25 who are struggling in school or miss out on opportunities due to mental health issues, disabilities, poverty, lack of parental support or other difficulties and life challenges. Each year we work with around 1000 young people running projects in the community and from our centre on New Walk. We support young people to progress with education and employment goals and showcase their talents through exhibitions and performances.

Through the auction you’re aiming to raise £10,000 for the charity, tell us what this will be going towards?

This year we aim to raise £10,000 which will go directly to our Creative Enterprise Programme. The project encourages young people with creative talent but who need extra help and support to make, market and sell their creative work. We run sessions at our centre and they work towards making art, fashion, crafts which they can sell through our website or their own Etsy pages and through local marketplace events. The project helps them gain transferrable employment skills and we’ve seen around 10 young people go on to get jobs or start selling their work independently. We also give the them the opportunity to undertake creative commissions for local businesses. Young people have created artwork for places such as the new Wullcomb Apartments near Highcross and for the board room of Stoneygate based Fothergill Wyatt Estate Agents.

Danielle Vaughan artist
By Danielle Vaughan

As a local charity, how do you find Leicester as a city in terms of the support that you receive from the public and organisations?

We get a lot of support from those that know about us – the art auction is a great example of local artists putting something back into a project that they identify with and want to support.  We’ve got Dickon Dearman from Churchgate Auctions giving his time as the auctioneer on the night and Mattioli Woods are giving us their business lounge with Chutney Ivy providing the food.   We have a number of businesses that have made us their charity of the year and we’re always looking to make new business partnerships.  This year we’re charity partners of Grant Thornton, M&S, PPL PRS and HSP Financial Planning and Cambridge & Counties Bank.  We have a committed board of business ambassadors that help advocate for our work and support projects and fundraising events such as the Miller Partnership, Glynis Wright & Co Family Solicitors and ongoing pro-bono marketing and design support from Mocha Marketing and Arch Creative. Our challenge as a small charity is getting our name out there as we don’t have the marketing function that bigger charities have.

What other events and activities do Soft Touch Arts have planned for the rest of 2019?

We’re an incredibly busy organisation – at any one time we have about 15 different projects running – ranging from our community-based UpStart programme in Beaumont Leys & New Parks supporting young people at risk of negative life outcomes, our Creative Studio project which offers alternative education to young people who struggle in mainstream education, our prison art project in Welford Road prison (expect a big exhibition at Soft Touch & New Walk Museum in Feb 2020), our GR-eat cooking and wellbeing project with Refugees and Asylum Seekers and our weekly lunchtime pop-up café project serving the public with great food and giving young people cooking and catering skills at the same time, plus much more.

soft touch arts leicester

How can people buy tickets or find out more about Soft Touch Arts?

Check out our website and social media pages for our general work and events and exhibitions. For the art auction tickets are available on Eventbrite. For the ticket price of £20 guests get a free entry into a mystery artwork prize draw, food, a welcome drink and live entertainment.  People can also reserve tickets by emailing [email protected] and we’ll have a few tickets available on the door for those who decide they want to be part of it at the last minute.

The Art Auction fundraiser takes place on 1 October from 6-9pm at Mattioli Woods.


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