#AuthorsForFireys campaign raises hundreds of thousands for fire relief, with Nick Cave, Cheryl Strayed, and Liane Moriarty taking part


January 13, 2020 19:40:59

The #AuthorsForFireys campaign has raised “hundreds of thousands” of dollars for bushfire relief and delivered “a swell of generosity and kindness” across the arts community.

Key points:

  • Authors and figures in the arts community donated items, services or their expertise for auction to raise funds for bushfire relief
  • An organiser said the campaign had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars
  • Many people who missed out on the winning bids donated their pledge regardless

The viral hashtag, launched by Australian authors Nova Weetman and Emily Gale, quickly gained momentum as prominent and emerging members of the local and international arts scene auctioned off items and experiences.

Authors, publishers, singers, and artists donated “signed books, illustrations, unique experiences, one-off opportunities and writers’ services” with all proceeds going back to firefighters.

Official bids closed on Saturday night, but as bushfires still smoulder in some parts of the country, some authors have extended bidding deadlines or even started new auctions.

The Twitter-run challenge invited bidders to tweet bids under their preferred auction thread, with the highest bidder as at 11:00pm AEDT Saturday declared the winner.

The bidder then submits proof of their donation to the author, who will then dispatch the item or arrange for the service to be carried out.

Nick Cave pledges suit, signed song and $500,000

Items included a swathe of signed books with more quirky offerings up for grabs like naming rights in upcoming novels, a manuscript review by acclaimed authors and original artworks.

Australian author Liane Moriarty promised to name two characters in her next book after winning bidders Sulin Ho and Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan, who each submitted bids for $1,300.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Kevin Rudd auctioned off a collection of items, including signed books, a chat over tea and iced VoVos, and a chance to compete against the self-proclaimed handball king on the court.

Authors and artists got into the donating spirit on both sides, with children’s book writer Andy Griffiths bidding a winning $10,000 to buy singer Nick Cave’s suit and a signed copy of song The Sick Bag Song.

Griffiths also auctioned a signed set of books — The Treehouse Series — with winner Julian Smith nabbing the prize with a $1,050 bid.

On Thursday, Cave and Bad Seeds bandmate Warren Ellis pledged a separate $500,000 to bushfire relief on top of the auctioned items.

International players also participated, with literary star Cheryl Strayed awarding signed leather-bound copies of her memoir Wild.

The showrunner of long-running US drama Grey’s Anatomy, Krista Vernoff, pledged $2,000 for the copy.

‘It swept everyone up’

Organiser and young adult fiction author Nova Weetman said she was having “heart palpitations” as the clock ticked closer to bidding deadline on Saturday night.

“When it hit 11:00pm it was like the whole of Twitter was united in a giant celebration marking the end of the auction,” she said.

“I didn’t sleep much that night because it was so much bigger than us. It had sort of swept everyone up.”

“What was so amazing on Saturday was the number of people joining Twitter just to bid.”

“In fact, they’d often tweet us to ask for instructions on how to use Twitter because they hadn’t used it before. That was pretty special.”

Weetman said it would be several days before a final donation figure could be calculated, but funds raised were in the “hundreds of thousands”.

“I know everyone is desperate to know the final number, but this auction was never going to be just about money,” she said.

“Most of us can’t afford to donate huge sums of money, so this is our way of saying we care, we support the firefighters who are doing brave and dangerous work.

“I think it says everything about the arts community that we have come together like this — writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, librarians, readers, bookshops to share our work and to share our sadness.”

Generosity abound even for runners-up

Weetman said while bidding was competitive, the campaign overwhelmingly attracted a “swell of generosity and kindness”.

“Since the auction finished there have been so many lovely stories,” she said.

“The illustrator whose work I missed out on messaged me to say he’d send me a print version.

“Other people have been offering copies of books to people who missed out on auctions.”

“Many bidders have added to their bids and donated above what their winning bids went for.”

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First posted

January 13, 2020 19:36:47

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