UNO alum, local artist groups raise over $1,000 to benefit Australia’s wildfires


Courtney Sidzyik

Local band “And How” performs at the Petshop in Benson for the Brushfire Benefit. Photo by Courtney Sidzyik.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, a group of local artists hosted a free benefit at The Petshop in Benson to raise funds to help aid Australia’s wildfires.

With no minimum cover or donation requirement, the Bushfire Benefit event raised $1,304 in one night. The organizers decided to split the money between two different aid groups. The Australian Wildfire Fund (AWF) will receive $700 and the remaining amount will go to another non-profit group, Givit. This group works with local charities, community groups, the state government and councils in an affected area to help them obtain exactly what is needed, when it is needed, according to the Givit’s official website.

Event coordinators recruited artists from different art mediums including music, culinary arts, visual and textile arts. Over 10 artists donated or contributed to the event. Donated items included the venue, drinks, beverages, paintings, jewelry, makeup and clothing. The only thing asked in return from participants was to contribute a donation and enjoy a night of art and music.

Ryan Menchaca, lead singer in the band And How, was one of the head coordinators of the benefit. Menchaca said he believes in the impact of a community coming together to try something new and help those in need.

“I like the idea of grabbing all of our closest friends and bringing them into the same space with integrity and the idea that [we should] get hyped about putting our money toward something that isn’t just the shows that we usually go out and watch or the art that we usually buy,” Menchaca said. “All of that stuff is very important—but from whence we came is the planet, and these bushfires have been degrading a very precious part of our little globe.”

Another artist and UNO alum from And How, Andy Cubrich, said he wanted the event to combine art with fundraising. As local artists, hosting events that are connected to a cause is much more rewarding than getting into a routine of the same shows, people and profit, Cubrich said.

“To know that I get to play at this show that is going to make money for a great cause, and I get to donate at — it’s fantastic,” Cubrich said.

The musical line-up consisted of the bands And How, Fat Childhood (Sgt. Jr.), Bach Mai and BB Sledge, with vegan food donated by Soular Power Plate.

The coordinators of the event want to encourage anyone who missed the event to donate online to any of the organizations supporting the wildfire crisis.