Artrageous proceeds continue working long after the party's over

Being the beneficiary of one of Nashville’s best-known parties is a nonprofit organization’s dream, and Nashville CARES officials work to ensure that Artrageous attendees are made aware of just how valuable their contributions are.

“The monies we raise from events like Artrageous and our other direct fund raising programs account for 25 percent of our budget,” said Joseph Interrante, chief executive officer of Nashville CARES. “Those funds are necessary because they do some very unique things.”

Because funds raised through special events don’t come with the strings that some government and grant money does, it can be used for
such things as “uncensored” safer-sex and other educational programs.

That’s of key importance to the GLBT community for a variety of reasons, Interrante explained.

“We can provide comprehensive programs based on science, and work without restrictions on content,” he said. “This way we can affirm people’s sense of selfhood, which is so essential in getting our message across and helping people make meaningful changes in their lives.”

Locally raised dollars also provide a necessary bridge for a budget that relies on grants and government funding that, unfortunately, can be reduced or eliminated with little or no advance warning.

“These are the funds that provide continuity and flexibility to our programs and help us ensure that services aren’t interrupted regardless of other changes to our funding stream,” Interrante said.

Of equal importance is how Artrageous and CARES’ other events give it a platform to create strategic partnerships within the community, so that it can work both independently and with other service providers to offer food, counseling, transportation and other daily services to its clients.

“Locally raised money also makes our advocacy work possible, and also [aids us in] helping people living with HIV meet their essential needs so that they can make optimal use of the care and treatment that is making such a difference in their lives these days,” Interrante said.

Nashville CARES continues to expand its outreach through Middle Tennessee, providing education in various formats to about 50,000 adults and youth last year, as well as counseling to some 5,000 people, a figure that’s slated to at least double this year. Around 2,500 people benefit from the agency’s various direct social services, which translated into about 10,000 bus and gas vouchers in the last year, 2,000 hours of counseling and more than 200,000 safer-sex kits being put together and distributed.

All this and more relies on those Artrageous ticket sales, and the fact that the event has been tagged by the Nashville Scene’s readers
as a favorite. The fact that Nashville CARES topped the nonprofit list in the same reader poll can only help drive its popularity as it approaches
the quarter-century mark. And since HIV is very much still with us, the longer Artrageous is around to generate awareness and income, the

“The essential part of helping people to have access and make meaningful use of all the treatments that are out there is making sure
that their basic needs are met,” Interrante said. “If they’re wondering where they’ll sleep or where their next meal is coming from,
they’re not going to follow a treatment plan in a consistent way. By providing those services and improving people’s health literacy so they can be informed participants in their own care, it benefits the entire community.”

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