Photo Courtesy of YWCA Rags Guild.
Domestic violence is something that is never deserved or justified, and unfortunately it as an all too familiar problem both nationally and here at home. According to Kathy Dorr, a board member for the RAGS Guild that hosts a juried wearable art competition and sale that benefits the YWCA’s domestic violence prevention and intervention programs, the Pierce County YWCA’s 24-hour domestic abuse hotline received nearly 8,500 calls in 2016. For 22 years, community members have been raising funds and awareness to help victims of domestic abuse, and you can do your part by attending the 23rd Annual RAGS Wearable Art Sale. In its previous 22 sales, more than $1.5-million dollars has been raised and donated to the local YWCA, and those funds go towards programs for those suffering and recovering from domestic violence.
Months before the show, the all-volunteer guild solicits regional individuals and businesses for monetary and in-kind donations to defray show expenses and supplement RAGS’s contribution to the YWCA. As a result, nearly 100 percent of RAGS’s proceeds go directly to the YWCA.
This year’s event will again be held at Mercedes Benz of Tacoma. “The first RAGS event donated $5,000 to the YWCA Pierce County domestic violence shelter,” said Dorr. “In 2016, the 22nd annual RAGS Sale and Gallery competition gave $110,000 to the YWCA intervention programs. The first shows were held at American Art on Broadway but moved to Mercedes in 1998 because we had outgrown the space.”
The blend of art, fashion, shopping and fundraising is what makes RAGS significant to its many loyal supporters, according to Jill Scholtens, RAGS chair. “Domestic violence is an all too familiar issue in our community,” said Scholtens. “Shoppers, artists and volunteers believe that it is important to fund programs offering hope to families affected by domestic violence. And when that opportunity is combined with shopping for unique wearable fashions, people find that it’s a fun way to support an organization that is saving lives in our community.”
The wearable art show and gallery will take place March 9 through March 12 and is open to everyone. Creative clothing, fashion accessories and unusual jewelry from more than 75 artists of local, regional and national acclaim will be for sale at the boutique-style show. One-third of all sales will benefit the YWCA’s domestic violence intervention programs.
“The RAGS show offers variety in every price range,” Scholtens said. “From artistic, affordable beaded bracelets and whimsical accessories, to luxurious hand-woven garments, and unique gold, silver or precious stone jewelry.”
Besides its boutique-style marketplace sale, RAGS also features a gallery-style competition of one-of- a-kind garments, accessories and jewelry, with the winners in several categories earning cash awards. Some of these special works are for sale, giving shoppers the opportunity to own an award-winning piece of wearable art.
RAGS is underwritten entirely through donations from people and organizations who believe in the YWCA Pierce County’s mission and in RAGS’ creative approach to supporting that mission. These donations fund the production of RAGS. From equipment rental, advertising and decorations to permits and printing costs. The artists who display and sell their work at RAGS agree to give 33 percent of their sales in the marketplace and 40 percent of their sales in the gallery to RAGS. The annual RAGS donation, including the $110,000 given in 2016, is earmarked to fund YWCA programs and specifically address domestic violence in our community.
The RAGS show is open to the public at no charge at Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma, 1701 Alexander Ave. E., just off Interstate 5 in Fife. Show hours are Friday and Saturday, March 10 and 11, from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday, March 12, from 10am to 4pm The weekend begins with a ticketed Gala preview event on Thursday, March 9. The gala ticket price is $80 and tickets may be purchased at RAGSWearableArt.org. Also available for purchase at the website are RAGS gift certificates in any denomination.
Dorr has been a part of the Guild since 1996 and looks forward to the event every year for what it provides for the community. “It brings a diverse community of artists, volunteers and businesses together with the common cause of changing and sometimes saving the lives of victims of domestic violence and their children. We are breaking the cycle of violence to create productive members of our community and county.”
Despite the continued increase in donations, the demand for services is still very high. According to Dorr, more than 400 requests for shelter were turned away last year due to space constraints. Domestic violence is a problem, but you can be part of the solution by participating in this event. By supporting local artists with your purchase, you are also directly funding programs that are changing and often saving lives. The Guild is always looking for additional volunteers for the event as well as underwriting sponsors. If you would like additional information on joining the Guild or volunteer opportunities, click on the RAGS tab at www.ragswearableart.org . You can also reach out to Kathy directly at email@example.com or 253.752.3170.