Ashley for the Arts helps local school districts fund student-run programs

ARCADIA (WKBT) — Ashley for the Arts is one of the biggest fundraiser in the state. Last year, the event raised over $600,000 — money that helped nonprofits and 30 school districts across the Coulee Region.

With every person that walks through the gates, funding arrives at the steps of a classroom.

“I mean obviously it’s a fun event for people but the heart of it is the charity piece,” said Arcadia school district administrator Lance Bagstad.

For the past ten years, Ashley for the Arts has been supporting creativity both on the stage and behind the scenes.

“It’s a great collaboration and partnership among all students and adults alike,” event director Cole Bawek said.

Parents, teachers, and students volunteer to work the festival.

“So that’s through either event setup days or the event weekend or even for teardown,” Bawek said.

Each hour volunteered means more money for their district. The district says the event is also an economic boost for the community. Local restaurants and small businesses rely on the event for a large part of their revenue.

“It’s usually been in the $20,000 to $30,000 dollar,” Bagstad said.

He says for some clubs, the event is the biggest source of funding.

“There’s a lot of organizations where this is their yearly fundraiser. They do this every year,” Bagstad said.

Bawek says it’s important to support school programs that are often left behind.

“Funding is not always there for either academia or music and arts within our area school districts,” he said.

Bagstad says students look forward to the event every year.

“I think kids are more prone to step up and help when they know it’s going to be something that’s going to benefit them in the long run,” he said.

And a charity driven event brings in community members from all across the Coulee Region.

“When you mention you’re from Arcadia, people ask about Ashley from the Arts. They just know it exists and they know it exists from miles and miles away,” Bagstad said.

Ashley for the Arts runs through Saturday, Aug. 13th.