The Artist Trust celebrated 30 years in Washington on Saturday, using the milestone to invite artists and patrons to enjoy an evening of art, performances and conversation at the V2 in Capitol Hill.

The 300 celebration tickets had been sold with still more people coming to the door during the evening. The celebration was also the backdrop the trust’s announcement it is launching a $3.5 million fundraising campaign to improve its outreach and grant services

The entire V2 space was used to display works by more than 40 artists, from sculptures and scenes to photographs and collages. This is the last month  the Artist Trust will be using V2 for its art exhibition.

“This marks the first major campaign undertaken by Artist Trust since 2000,” said board president Pablo Schugurensky. “I am especially proud of how strong we are beginning the campaign’s public phase. Over 50 percent of our total goal has been secured, with 100 percent participation of our generous board of trustees.”  

The Artist Trust supports artists and art projects across the state with grants, training and professional resources, such as promotion and media, said executive director Shannon Halberstadt. The Trust announced it was officially organizing to support individual artists in October 1986.

“We had parties around the state in October of ’86, celebrating that (announcement), so we had parties in Walla Walla, in Spokane and here in Seattle, and it’s really nice because we’re having a party now to celebrate our 30-year anniversary,” Halberstadt said. “And we have artists from all around the state who are showing or performing, and reading.”

“It’s our 30th anniversary, and behind the scenes the last couple of years, our board has really been looking at this moment and thinking about the organization and how we can really propel ourselves into the future,” said development director Kristina Goetz.

A Campaign for a Creative Future is what they came up with, and it’s been in the silent phase for a while.

“It’s a $3.5 million campaign that will help us stabilize our grants fund by providing a revenue stream for our signature grants. For example, our Fellowship Program, we fundraise for that every year, we raise the money,” she said. “We will continue to do that — that will never stop — but this will allow a little bit of a lift for those programs, to add that stability that they will be funded.”

Goetz said another part of the campaign is a venture fund that will allow for seed funding of specific artists’ projects, so the board can better determine where and how to best make expenditures. Some funding has already been used to hire a staff member in Spokane when the trust was awarded grant funding, so now the organization is doing more outreach across the state.

“We’re going public tonight with our board, which has already raised over $1 million for this, and actually we’ve raised quite a bit more than that, so we’re going public with a need of about $1.8 million,” Goetz said.

Three individuals gave readings in an area separate from the main room while attendees mingled with soft music playing in the background. Artist Kristen Ramirez created a “selfie booth,” including a selfie cane and changing scenes through a projector.

“Our main focus is supporting individual artists,” Halberstadt said. “We do in several different ways. We do that through direct support, granting to individual artists, also training and professional practices; how to run a business as an artist and being a connector for artists, connecting them with each other and with the community.”

The other focus is connecting artists with national and international opportunities, as well as making sure artists’ issues are visible and understanding how the community can be supportive.

Goetz said the grants are unrestricted, so an artist can use the funds any way they need, such as renting space for a display or creation, buying materials or covering living expenses.

“We also have a program called Grants for Artists’ Projects, that’s a project-based award,” she said, “and often artists will write their studio space or their performance space into that application. But most of the grants are unrestricted because we trust them to do great art.”

“(Campaign funding) also allows us to be a little bit more responsive to needs and opportunities in artists’ world as they arise,” Halberstadt said. “I think that’s something that’s very important, because when a nonprofit organization has a net-zero kind of budget, it’s very hand-to-mouth and it’s very difficult to do exciting things.”