AT A GLANCE: Autism art auction attracts famous artists

Is this for a healthcare programme?
No, it is part of a £500,000 fundraising campaign for Spectrum, a small, Cornwall-based charity that provides residential and respite care for people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. The money is needed to renovate one of its residential homes.

Explain where the artists fit in?
A number of artists and architects have donated auction lots. These include a sketch from Damien Hirst, a print of Chris Levine’s large-scale hologram image of the Queen and architectural plans from Lord Foster. Not bad for a small, single-issue healthcare charity with a small budget.

Who handles the PR?
Spectrum’s development manager Deborah Moore is in charge of fundraising and PR. But the majority of the work for the auction has been done by compliance manager Sarah Miller, who researched and contacted artists and architects.

What coverage has this attracted?
A lot of local media, including a piece for regional broadcast programme BBC Spotlight. There was also an article in The Independent under the headline ‘Autism charity attracts titans of the art world’. Will Paget, founder of PR agency Paget Baker, who has been involved by Miller in the Spectrum project, contacted the newspaper to pitch the story.

Classic word-of-mouth coverage then?
The ‘snowball effect’ certainly shows the potential of third-party endorsement. For instance, one of the architects involved is Matthew Stokes, who works in Los Angeles. He is friends with Courtney Cox and David Arquette and has worked for Cher, and they have also contributed items.

Anything else?
Stella Vine, whose painting of Princess Diana provoked media controversy, has put up two original pieces. Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, who designed Cornwall’s Eden Project, has contributed drawings, while authors Nick Hornby and Philip Pullman have also donated items.

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