Vernon Caetani Centre Splash of Red organizing committee members Susan Brandoli (from left), committee chair Karen Winsor-Geatros, Shaughnessy Barker, Alex Lockwood, board president Sherry Price, AJ Jaeger, Kristin Froneman and Kathy Parton are taking the popular fundraising event online due to COVID-19. (Photo submitted)

Vernon fundraiser making a splash online

Caetani Centre’s Splash of Red going virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19

A popular Vernon charity fundraising auction is moving fully online for 2020 due to COVID-19.

The Caetani Centre’s Splash of Red normally features a full four-course Italian dinner under the stars complete with wine pairings, live entertainment and an auction of fine artwork by local artists. This format is impossible to replicate online.

“We decided to simplify the online event as much as possible,” said Caetani Centre executive director Susan Brandoli. “We were astounded at the enthusiastic and generous levels of support we still received from local businesses and sponsors, and are especially grateful for donations received by local artists who still wanted to support our organization, some even donating more than one work, even though we were not able to host the live event.

“It is a humbling experience, and the Caetani Society is so thankful for their continued support during these trying times, when so many are struggling.”

In anticipation of the online auction, the society has launched a brand new satellite website – – to host the auction event and to feature the 35 unique art pieces up for auction.

Although the live event will not take place, all works can be viewed online on the new website, and also on the centre’s social media sites, and there will still be a live pre-viewing and exhibition of the artwork donated to Splash of Red, which started Tuesday, July 28, and runs until Aug. 13.

The preview exhibition will take place in the Caetani Studio Gallery, located onsite at the Caetani Centre, 3401 Pleasant Valley Road, Vernon, during regular office hours and by appointment with social distancing in effect. Call the Caetani Centre office to book a time, or register online for a live viewing at

All interested bidders must register online to bid on the artwork as well.

“There is no fee to register, so we hope that the online version will reach a wider audience this year,” said Brandoli.

A BUY NOW option is available for a limited time only until Aug. 7.

“This feature allows people to skip the auction and drama of wondering if they will be the successful bidder,” said Brandoli. “They have the option to just pay the fair market value (the price an artist would normally sell their work for) and then they are automatically the owner of their favourite work.”

Regular online bidding opens Friday, July 31, 10 a.m., and continues to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13.

READ MORE: Caetani spirit is alive at A Splash of Red

“People will still be able to register to bid online for the remaining artworks from July 31 up to the night of August 13, until the auction closes at 8 p.m.,” said Brandoli. “However, if the BUY NOW button is still showing, the bidders have an opportunity to step in and purchase the artwork outright, to scoop it away from the other bidders.”

All funds from the Splash of Red will directly support the operations of the Caetani Centre and the development of this important heritage site.

The COVID-19 virus has taken a toll on many cultural organizations both locally and worldwide. The Caetani Centre is no exception, and has been hit particularly hard.

As an organization that relies primarily on live events and public programs for its livelihood, it has seen its normal revenue stream virtually disappear.

“The COVID-19 situation has been devastating for our organization,” said Brandoli. “Our staffing and programming has been slashed to a bare minimum, and we are still not fully open to the public.

“We get a significant number of artists and writers who take part in our live/work Residency Program for artists and writers, who come here to stay in Vernon from across Canada, the USA and internationally. With the travel restrictions in place, even between some provinces, we have seen a severe decline in the ability of people to come to the North Okanagan for our programs.”

Public community programs have been suspended for the foreseeable future, and some programming has been moved online, whenever possible.

“The safety of our guests and visitors is paramount,” said Brandoli. “The one event we have proceeded with is the outdoor Summer Music Festival concert series, but it has been severely reduced in scope to adhere to the mandated provincial and federal health guidelines for social distancing, using masks, and limiting access and numbers. We have set up sanitization stations, etc., for the live events that are able to continue.”

Despite its current challenges, the Caetani Centre Society is confident that it will weather these challenges. The society boasts a strong core group of supporters, members, donors, artists and volunteers who are determined to realize the vision and potential of this unique heritage site – one with a mysterious, disturbing, and yet inspiring, story of overcoming adversity.

“Our benefactor, Sveva Caetani, would fully understand and sympathize with our predicament,” said Brandoli. “She lived and dreamed in isolation for over 25 years, held a prisoner in her own home by her own mother and circumstances.

“She emerged from the other side of her forced isolation to become a well-respected teacher, artist and mentor in our community, and created an incredible body of art works that continue to inspire local artists and writers today on a national and international scale. Her legacy and unique story is definitely one of the local histories that needs to be celebrated and remembered.”

The public is reminded when visiting to please wear a mask and remember that social distancing measures are in effect. Sanitization stations are available onsite.

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