A Community Grows at the Ardmore
It all started when Scott Shapiro’s father-in-law, an avid collector, gave him the famed Avalon Ballroom Skull and Roses poster as a gift.
Shapiro, who calls himself a regular guy who’s had a lifelong love affair with the Grateful Dead, was hooked. The art, the history, the stories all drew him in, and soon his collection grew to 89 posters, hanging on the walls of his office. Visitors often told him what he’d been thinking already: He needed to have a public exhibition.
He explored the idea a bit, but quickly ran into a problem: galleries are in the business of selling art, and he didn’t want to part with his posters, just share them with a few more people. And maybe have some Rex-related fundraising attached, because, he thought, that would be the best way to give back to the Grateful Dead.
Things continued in this impasse for years, until he met Amie Potsic, executive director and curator of the Main Line Art Center in Haverford, PA. Potsic loved the posters, and had no problem with not selling them.
She also had a great idea for the perfect fundraising event. As it happens, her father-in-law was Wavy Gravy, whose 80th birthday was coming up. What about a party with the art exhibition? And make it a fundraiser for Wavy’s beloved Camp Winnarainbow and Rex?
Chris Perella, co-owner of the nearby Ardmore Music Hall, thought it was a great idea. After years of developing the venue as “an intimate space for legendary musicians,” with an active scene and a thriving community of regulars, he thought it was the perfect spot for “a festival mindfully curated for folks who grew up in the Grateful Dead world.”
Unlimited Devotion: An Evening of Goodness (June 2016) was born. It was a huge success, for music, art, community, and fundraising, far exceeding anyone’s expectations.
After that, Shapiro admits, “I felt fulfilled. But Chris said, let’s do it again.”
So they did, only by this time it was all too big to fit in a single day, so it became A (three-day) Weekend of Goodness in June 2017. More incredible music, great times, happy folks, funds raised, and lots of other goodness. Wavy loved the energy and community that sprung up around the event. The press took notice.
So, of course, the next one’s already in the works.
Shapiro admits that having fun while raising money to do good work gives him the “best feeling ever.” He reflects, “I started thinking about my legacy — and if I can make and sustain this so my children can continue it, raise more money, have more fun, it’s the coolest thing in the world.”
Perella concurs:” I see no reason why it won’t continue into the foreseeable future. It’s our civic duty to keep it going!” Watch this space for future events!