There is absolutely no doubt that the Australian wildfires are having a devastating effect on wildlife and the environment. The overstretched fire services are struggling, and people are losing their homes and livelihoods, and in some cases, sadly, their lives too.
I was lucky enough to spend a month in Australia over a decade ago. I loved meeting people and seeing all the unique wildlife, so I find some of the photos I’ve seen very distressing.
There have always been wildfires in Australia and these extreme conditions appear to be largely due to climate change. Cruel arsonists, and reduced resources or lack of fire breaks haven’t helped.
The true picture won’t be known until the wildfires have been brought under control and the damage can be properly assessed. It’s hard to see how the ecosystem can recover from this disaster. If it’s difficult to watch on our screens, I can only imagine how dreadful it must be to deal with the wildfires on a daily basis.
Art for Charity
As an animal lover and wildlife artist, I’ve been very interested in the online debates around using art to raise funds for the relief efforts in Australia. There are two main ways that artists might use their art to support charities:
1. Artists can produce Australian animal art and donate all of the sale proceeds to a suitable charity.
The charity clearly benefits most from this, provided that art sales come quickly. However, painting and marketing artwork takes a lot of time and effort, and this can lead to delays in sending funds, which is not ideal in a crisis situation.
Animal artists will generally meet all materials and labour costs as their donation. They may donate the artwork directly to a charity, where it can be sold or auctioned to raise funds. Other artists will sell the art themselves through shows, blogs, online shops and social media. This could potentially leave them without an income while they are chasing charitable sales.
2. Animal artists sell their original Australian wildlife art and donate a percentage of sales to charity.
Again, the charity will benefit, once the artist sells the artwork. People may focus on the (possibly larger) percentage that the artist retains, rather than the charitable donation. Buyers may not realise that there are costs for materials, labour, marketing etc.
My experience of charitable art sales
I’ve personally been donating a proportion of my rhino art sales to rhino conservation projects for several years now. It’s always been important to me to support wildlife conservation, but I can honestly say that no-one buys my rhino art specifically to make a donation. They have to LOVE my rhino art first, then they are pleasantly surprised that as a bonus they are also supporting a wildlife conservation charity (which they may already be supporting with their own donations).
I’ve had a few requests to paint Australian wildlife art specifically to raise funds for wildlife relief efforts. I have considered helping in this way, but artwork sales can take a while, and funds are needed now.
Whilst I may paint koalas and kangaroos etc at some point, this is not the moment. Instead, I am donating to my preferred charities to assist with the immediate need for animal rescue operations. I hope you understand, and that you will do likewise. Please make sure your donations go to a legitimate charity. Desperate situations often bring out the best in people, but sadly there are scams out there.
I wish everyone in Australia a speedy end to the wildfires so they can start to find a way forward with our help.