Friends of St. Avips
The Legacy of St. Avips
St. Avips, or “Spiva” in reverse, embodies the history, dedication, and passion of Joplin’s art community. Conceived by Mary Stanley, a close friend of George Spiva, this initiative was designed to financially support and sustain the art center. Its inception can be traced back to May 1962, when the first-ever St. Avips Ball was organized at the Connor Hotel. Over the decades, this annual event has become a much-anticipated occasion.
The core of St. Avips is driven by 40 dedicated volunteers who come together each year with a singular goal: to orchestrate a gala to garner funds for Spiva. These members pledge their time and embrace the opportunity to host the ball, with a planned schedule stretching all the way to 2031. The roles they assume vary, from curating invitations and decorations to overseeing food and more, culminating in an event that epitomizes community spirit.
A Shift in Strategy, a Growth in Donations
For many years, while St. Avips’ contributions to Spiva were cherished, they weren’t substantial. However, a shift occurred in 1998 when the group started actively seeking underwriting for the ball. This strategic move invited companies and individuals to financially back various facets of the event, from the wine on tables to the invitations sent out.
By 2008, underwriting had surged to nearly $40,000. The boost in funds meant St. Avips could increase their donations to Spiva. As a testament to this growth, in 2023, the Friends of St. Avips contributed an impressive $120,000 to Spiva, taking their total donations since the group’s inception to over $1.2 million
Art, Auctions & Associations
Integral to the St. Avips ball is an art auction, providing artists a platform to showcase their creations and simultaneously raise funds for Spiva.
The bond between St. Avips and Spiva goes beyond financial contributions. While members of St. Avips often find representation on the Spiva board, both entities operate autonomously, often uniting in collaboration and support. . It’s this mutual respect and shared vision that forms the cornerstone of this partnership, all in the pursuit of ensuring art plays a valuable role in our community.
Learn more about the Friends of St. Avips