The Holy Bones Festival community has undertook the "Fundraise the Dead Project" to benefit the Ypsilanti Performance Space, Inc. (The YPSI). The Fundraise the Dead Collection features auction items, donated artwork from local artists, and a curated selection of public domain works, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to The YPSI.
Holy Bones Festival was established in 2019 after a group of artists were inspired to create a Halloween-themed arts and crafts show with performances. Steve Pierce of The YPSI generously volunteered to host the Holy Bones Festival. This former church is now being restored and repurposed to a community event space and concert hall.
In April 2018, renovations began on the former First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downtown Ypsilanti.
"Holy Bones just seemed perfect for the spooky vibes of the former church," Holly Schoenfield said. Schoenfield is a volunteer at the YPSI and one of the founders of the Holy Bones Festival. "Our goal was to give artists a fun, spirited marketplace environment to sell their wares, while supporting The YPSI through suggested donations upon entry."
Back in September, Schoenfield gave 13 skull replicas out to local artists in Ypsilanti, which they have since transformed into their own masterpieces. All of them, as well as other artworks, are available for purchase at the Holy Bones website. These proceeds will help shape the vision of creating a performance space that welcomes creative souls from all walks of life, death, and everything in between.
"I discovered Holy Bones last year through Facebook events," Elise Velez, an art major in her 4th year at Eastern Michigan University, said. Velez is one of the original skull creators. "This year, when I found out they wanted 13 [skull] artists, I applied right away."
According to Schoenfield, most of the fundraising this year has been heavily focused on raising funds for the venue, as the coronavirus pandemic has left a lot of uncertainty for both performers and performance venues throughout the Ypsilanti community. The festival was completely online this year, although it was originally scheduled to take place the first week of October for its second year this fall.
"It takes away some of the feeling of community that it brought last year," Velez said. "Of course, I was able to meet and interact with everyone online, but it wasn't the same."
Regardless, Velez says her decision to get involved with Holy Bones is one she highly encourages for others interested in art, especially college students. "As an artist, I find community involvement to be extremely important. It's how you get your name out there. You want that recognition."
Vendors can sign up for the online marketplace through the Holy Bones website. Any fees will be automatically waived for artists who donate to the Fundraise the Dead Project.
Although the auction ends Saturday, Oct. 31, Holy Bones will still continue to use their combined creative efforts and collaboration to help support this venue throughout renovations and beyond.