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Development Association begins creative fundraising campaign

Natchez — Sometimes fundraising has to get creative.

Natchez Downtown Development Association board member Yvonne Murray did just that when organizing the latest NDDA fundraiser.

NDDA is looking for unwanted chairs in good or slightly damaged condition to resell to raise funds for the downtown organization. Chairs need to be mostly wood.

Other wood furniture can also be donated and stored for use in a spring fundraiser, Murray said.

Local artists, businesses and community members will paint the chairs and, when needed, make small repairs, and then offer them for sale.

The artist who paints the chair will set the price of the chair and the proceeds from the sale will be split between NDDA and the artist, Murray said.

“All we ask is that the price not be so high that it would not be affordable,” Murray said. “I can just imagine that some people will create masterpieces on these chairs and we, of course, want the price to reflect the time and talent that has been invested.”

NDDA lost $25,000 in funding from the City of Natchez in November 2009. The city had funded that organization since 1988. The money previously allocated funded the salary of the NDDA director. Currently the organization is working without a director with a volunteer board and membership.

When the city cut funding during 2009 budget hearings, the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority board voted to provide $12,500 in funding. The EDA has since been dissolved.

“Currently we receive no funding, so all the board members were challenged to think of any fundraising ideas,” Murray said. “I went online and started looking for ideas, and I came across something similar to this one.”

Operating monies are collected through membership fees and fundraisers.

The organization’s mission is to attract patrons and visitors to downtown and to downtown businesses.

Murray said once chairs begin being donated she wil begin looking for people to paint and decorate the chairs.

“The design can be something very simple to something more elaborate,” Murray said. “They could paint a landscape or something abstract, whatever would appeal to others and fit into homes.”

Murray said the fundraiser was a good way to involve the large community of local artists Natchez has. She also wants to involve as many local businesses as possible by displaying chairs in different locations once they are decorated.

“I thought it was a good way to get the downtown businesses involved by setting up displays of the chairs in the businesses,” Murray said. “Once they’ve been displayed for a time in those businesses, we will have the official unveiling at ArtsNatchez Gallery.”

Murray said chair donations are being accepted now and she hopes to have chairs ready for display and sale by Friday, Nov. 5.

“We want to unveil things officially in conjunction with First Friday activities,” Murray said. “That way we can drive more people downtown to see what our wonderful artists have been able to do.”

But decorating isn’t just for artists. Murray said she’d love to have businessess or just community members commit to paint chairs as well.

“We can have something as simple as a coat of paint and glaze,” she said. “There is no reason everyone can’t be a part of this.”

NDDA hopes to have 100 chairs donated and refurbished.

“These, we are hoping, will make great Christmas gifts,” Murray said. “Or even just a great addition to a home during the holiday seasons. The chairs could be something new just to spice up the décor.”

Single chairs or sets of chairs are wanted.

Chairs should be dropped off at the Historic Natchez Foundation on Commerce Street during business hours.

Since the NDDA is a not-for-profit organization, all chair donations will be tax deductible. To arrange for drop off contact Murray at 601-238-8325 or by e-mail at murrayy@bellsouth.net.

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