Music lessons for kids in need

One of the paints on display for the auction, by Mackenzi Drew. (Submitted)
One of the paints on display for the auction, by Mackenzi Drew. (Submitted)
One of the paints on display for the auction, by Mackenzi Drew. (Submitted)

Some children in Fredericton want to immerse themselves in the arts but can’t because their family can’t afford to enroll them in programs. Isaac’s Way has an answer for that, raising money by auctioning off art to help them.

“There isn’t as much of it in schools these days,” said Tina LeJeune, who started the art auctioning program in 2007. “We’re strong believers that arts and culture really makes a greater city and a better community which makes for kids being more well-rounded.”

The latest endeavor is auctioning art to teach an instrument, something that LeJeune admits she can’t do, but appreciates seeing the value for underprivileged children.

Past auctions raised money for all types of art including dance, art and theatre. Local artists donate artwork and then people can come in person to deliver a handwritten offer.

But it’s not as simple as receiving art and displaying it.

“First of all, we try and find the kids in need,” said LeJeune.

She has connections with the Department of Social Development, Fredericton Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and local schools.

This is the nineteenth auction. The first 17 were at the restaurant’s former location, but the program was set back by a fire in October 2012.

“We did lose a lot of art,” she said. “At the time of the fire we had about 40 pieces of art hanging in the auction, but we also had about 40 pieces of art that were hanging for sale.”

But, they’re back at it, now on their second auction at the new location on Queen Street.

The concept started when LeJeune and her co-owner husband, Jason, wanted to decorate the summer patio. They asked their servers and cooks if any of them had an artistic talent. Surprisingly, many did.

They auction for four months, three times a year. During the first auction, they raised roughly $1,000. LeJeune expects to pass $7,000 this year, but she won’t know until the night of Jan. 26, when this round of auctioning ends.

Anna Scheidler is a fourth year STU student with a minor in music. She plays piano, flute and fiddle. She grew up around folk and Celtic music, so she naturally gravitates towards it, she said.

Since university she has put more time into the fiddle because she said it’s easier to jam with people.

“Music was just the greatest outlet for me,” she said, speaking about her youth. “We had a choir, just some small group music lessons in the classroom and that was always my favourite part of the day, it was something I looked forward to.”

LeJeune is always looking for students in need to sponsor, as well as anyone who can teach an instrument. They’re willing to teach anything to do with music, as long as someone can teach it.

“For me, it was a huge social thing to be able to meet people,” said Scheidler. “I think most of my closest friends [I have still] met through musical activities.”