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About 10 years ago I visited Arts Project Australia (APA) and met executive director Sue Roff. I was blown away by what I saw: A studio and sanctuary where some 140 artists, with a diverse range of intellectual disabilities practice their art, refine it and exhibit it for sale. As a parent I was moved by its mere existence and knew that this was a place I would want my child to be if they loved art and needed support. From then on and in one way or another we have supported APA, and our organisations and our people have become friends.
In 2016, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) conducted a study on Australian auction house trade in ivory. Rebecca Keeble of IFAW wrote to me as Managing Director of Leonard Joel and shared the report that identified Leonard Joel as the largest trader in the country. I was shocked, I’d never thought about the cumulative scale of our trade in antique and second hand ivory before. Rebecca asked me to consider an auction house’s responsibility in the global chain that begins with the slaughter of an elephant. I agreed with her. Within 40 days we developed a cessation policy, we no longer deal in ivory and we are now an advocate for cessation globally. I’ve since been appointed to IFAW’s Board.
These remain Leonard Joel’s two most active engagements with community and conservation and soon they were to come together.
In February 2020, I attended IFAW’s global board meetings in the United States. It was just as COVID was presenting. I recall people wiping down their plane seats and masks were being worn at the airport here and there. At those meetings I was introduced to the Room to Roam project; IFAW’s grand and vital plan to reconnect the disrupted migration paths of elephants and their shrinking habitats in Africa, by engaging with countries and communities on the ground. Without it, elephants may well be lost to the world within 40 years. I found the project inspiring. I promised IFAW’s CEO Azzedine Downes that I would create an art event, a global one, which would support Room to Roam.
But what sort of an art event? How could it be global? And what art and from where? I was stuck for some time but eventually decided to give Sue Roff a call with an idea. Sue liked the idea and agreed to support it and help me make it happen.
The idea was to bring supported studios from around the world together, many of which were severely disrupted by COVID, curate no more than 100 works that would raise funds for Room to Roam, and each and every participating studio.
The name of the event is Art to Roam and it will be a global auction streamed in real-time on World Animal Day. It’s our hope that bringing these two fundraising themes together will connect with not just lovers of this important thread of contemporary art, but also those passionate about conservation and community.
The event itself is the epitome of what IFAW stands for—helping animals and people to thrive together.
What better way to do that than through a global auction to raise funds for these extraordinary artists and this vital conservation project.
-John Albrecht, IFAW Board member and Leonard Joel Chairman
When: World Animal Day
Time: Tuesday 5 October 7am (AEST, AU) / Monday 4 October 4pm (NYC, USA) / Monday 4 October 1pm (CA, USA) / Monday 4 October 9pm (London, UK)