Ah Haa's moment

Award-winning songstress Jewel will be one of several celebrities in attendance at tonight’s fundraiser benefiting Ah Haa School for the Arts. Tickets for the event are $35 and can be purchased online or at the door. [Courtesy photo]


For the 24th year, the Ah Haa School for the Arts will be auctioning off art, vacation packages, makeovers and more tonight at its annual summer fundraiser. 

“People look forward to the event because it’s fun,” said Ah Haa Director Judy Kohin. “Over the years it’s always been a lively, entertaining evening full of music, theater pieces and dance acts. The whole idea is to create a fundraising event that’s different from the rest.”   

This year’s auction will see the return of singer-songwriter Jewel. The Telluride homeowner, who was a celebrity artist at last year’s event, will play a signed Pearl Jam Fender Stratocaster, which will be auctioned off at a starting price of $10,100. But the guitar won’t be the only item up for grabs.  

Artwork from renowned artists like celebrity photographer Jeff Lipsky will be auctioned off, as well as a collage by deceased four-star General Norman Schwarzkopf, who is one of this year’s featured celebrity artists. A co-founder of the Telluride Foundation, Schwarzkopf’s boots will also be up for auction. 

Several packages, including a spa day and a Hawaii getaway, are also up for bid at the live auction, which starts at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the auction will be available at the door when the event opens at 6 p.m., though Kohin encourages people to purchase them on Ah Haa’s website, ahhaa.org, to save time. Tickets are $35. Reserved seating is sold out. 

Ah Haa is celebrating 25 years of creativity this year, and Kohin said that the nonprofit relies solely on the support of the community to fund its many programs, which include children and adult classes, Telluride Painting School, visiting artists and art exhibitions, among others. 

“We have to raise several hundred thousand dollars a year just to keep our doors open,” Kohin said.  “As a nonprofit, we cannot exist without fundraising. It’s truly a community effort.” 

Kohin expects tonight’s fundraiser to raise at least a third of the funds for Ah Haa’s coffers for the year. She hopes to net over $100,000 by the end of the night, which she said will feature a couple of “celebrity surprises.” 

While the live auction doesn’t get cranked up until 7:30 p.m., bidding for the fundraiser’s silent auction is open now at the school, and will remain open until 45 minutes after the live auction closes.  

Kohin, who added that there will be a cash bar at the event, said that she encourages attendees to come in costume. The theme this year is silver in honor of the school’s 25th anniversary.  

“We’d love it if people come in something fun and flashy,” she said. “But there’s no requirement to dress up. We just want people to come and have a great time and support the school.”