Sara in the City: Local Artists Pay it Forward

Declan Bethley, Mayor Carolyn Goodman & Darnell Scott

By Sara Gabriella

Videography by Aldeco Video Productions

The universal gripe of artists is the persistent strain and challenge of a lack of funds. Not only, does it take money to pay the rent and keep the lights on, but creative projects don’t get very far without financing. It’s a lucky break that, while many artists are not gifted with business acumen (different side of the brain), they are, by their very nature, extremely creative.

When Declan Bethley and Darnell Scott, best buds since fifth grade and aspiring filmmakers, put the polishing touches on their screenplay they were excited to start production on their first feature flick. They had a checklist of equipment they would need to start production: lighting, audio, cameras. Then of course, a budget for marketing, for paying cast and crew…and so on. This lead the duo to a demoralizing epiphany: no money, no movie.

What they lacked in financial backing, they made up for in creativity, love for their art and downright determination.  They hit a wall, and instead of cursing their luck and their lack of a surname like Spielberg or Coppola, they built a ladder— and got to climbing.  In an inspired brainstorm session, Pickers for Patronage was born. Back in the days of Shakespeare, there were Patrons of the Arts, wealthy royalty and noblemen who provided for the livelihood of artists so they could create works of beauty and culture for the Royal Court. Declan and Darnell realized that they needed to call upon this same generous spirit –a spirit which recognized the value of the Arts to enlighten, uplift, entertain and educate the community. As artists, they felt called to contribute to the cultural elevation of the city that helped make them into the men, and filmmakers, they are today.  It would be a win-win! They would appeal for patronage to the members of the city they wanted to bless with their artistic works.

Even better, they realized… if they expected the city to support them, they would pay it forward, and show their community some love first! They resolved to walk every square mile of Las Vegas and beautify their city by picking up trash.  As Darnell Scott says, “Rather than the two of us sitting at home, crying about not having the means to make films, we hope that people will see something in our character throughout this campaign—something worth either investing in…or believing in.”

Pickers for Patronage evolved over the next couple of months. They now have uniforms; a website where the community can read their screenplays and check out their bios, even a blog so people can follow along on their escapades and track their progress. Pickers for Patronage is gaining traction, you may heard their radio interview on 98.5, caught a glimpse of them on local news station FOX 5, or peeped the photo on their blog from their breakfast with the Mayor.

Darnell and Delcan strap on their self –made picking backpacks, grab their trash bags and pickers and walk “5-10 miles a day, 2-3 days a week,” removing the scars of litter and leaving their city streets a better place. Declan shrugs when I ask how close they are to raising the money they need. “We’re actually not very close at all.” But, but true to form, the pair focus on what they do have, and not what they lack, “That’s okay, though. All it takes is one person to change that. We’ll continue to find creative ways to fundraise, and we’ll continue to give first to our community. We believe the rest will take care of itself.”

I get the idea that what started out as a crowd sourced arts fundraising campaign, has transformed into a life changing experience. Darnell confirms this when he expresses the value the Pickers have received as a consequence of giving, “We never realized how serious the litter problem is in Las Vegas. We also never realized how many areas of the city we hadn’t seen. There is a real sense of pride in having walked nearly 100 miles of our hometown, doing our part to beautify our community. It feels like OUR city more than ever now.”

What type of filmmakers this twosome will become, I can’t say exactly. But I am certain that if they put as much heart, hard work and sense of purpose into their film project, as they have into their fundraising; they have the potential to change the world, not just their community. What’s on deck for Darnell and Declan?  “In five years, we hope that P4P will be a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization assisting other young artists in Nevada, and instilling in them a duty to contribute to their community—through art and through action.”

For more info about P4P or to become a Patron:

Watch as “Sara in the City” links up with Darnell and Declan on their picking route in the 18B:

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