Q&A with Kathy Leighton and Leslie Sevcik, ACE 2018 Co-Chairs

We recently had the opportunity to chat with this year’s American Craft Exposition Co-Chairs, Kathy Leighton and Leslie Sevcik. See the Q&A below to learn more about this year’s show and their shared passion for ACE!

Q: What excites you most about ACE?

Kathy: The opportunity to see the latest works of the craftspeople who are in our show, and to have the opportunity to see and speak to them.

Leslie: Facilitating the connection between a master in their craft and the sophisticated North Shore customer, while simultaneously helping improve health care in our community. That’s a win-win!

Q: What was your motivation to become a co-chair?

Kathy: I have been an Auxiliary member for 36 years, and have filled almost every position available, including being Gala chair more than once, and serving as the President, but never had the opportunity to chair ACE. It is a great honor to serve in this position, and to learn from my very experienced co-chair, Leslie Sevcik and the Show Directors (all of whom are past ACE chairs).

Q: Why do you think ACE has been so successful all these years?

Leslie: We have a very dedicated group of women who serve on our committees, and an exceptionally hardworking office staff. ACE has held itself to the very highest standards in our field from day one. Almost all of our former chairs serve in an advisory capacity as Show Directors, making sure we continue to do just that. It’s a huge advantage to have their advice and expertise.

Q: Why do you believe that a show like ACE is needed?

Kathy: The American Craft Exposition gives the entire community an opportunity to see the country’s most exquisite craft all in one place. An added benefit is that the funds raised support research and services in our hospital system.

Leslie: If there are no masters making craft by hand, there can be no imitations or less expensive knockoffs. We have to support those incredibly talented humans who can create beautiful things that are unique and superbly made. Art and nature provides all of the beauty in life, and human beings provide all real art and innovation. At ACE you have the amazing art, the humans that made it, the humans who love and appreciate it, and the most beautiful natural setting to showcase it in. It’s a beautiful thing!

Q: Why is there such an interest from the artists to be part of the show?

Kathy: ACE gives artists the opportunity to exhibit and sell their craft in a remarkably beautiful setting (the Chicago Botanic Garden) to a well-informed and appreciative audience.

Leslie: ACE is one of the leading craft shows in the country, and to be juried into our show is a significant achievement that many artists strive for. The difference between ACE and other shows is the combination of our selectivity and prestige, coupled with the personal care we provide to our artists, including housing many of them in our homes and sometimes providing health care while they are here!

Q: Why is this show so important to NorthShore University HealthSystem?

Kathy: ACE has raised millions for medical research and projects since its inception thirty-four years ago. This has all come from ticket sales and sponsorships, since we do not profit from any of the artists’ sales. The funds raised benefit NorthShore University HealthSystem patients and their families. These services are truly needed to improve health and quality of life.

Q: Why should the public attend ACE this year?

Leslie: Customers who are discerning and appreciative of handmade and unique items of great beauty will love ACE. I personally love learning about fine craft from the person who made it. I find that when I purchase something from the show, I always associate it with the artist friend who made it. It’s like somebody making you a cake…store-bought cake is good, but a homemade cake from scratch made with love is much better!

Q: Is there anything new or different about this year’s show than in years past?

Kathy: As well as having many returning artists, we will also have new exhibitors. Also, for the first time since our show has moved to the Chicago Botanic Garden, air conditioning will help cool our new, larger Esplanade tent, allowing all exhibitors and attendees to enjoy the show in comfort.

Q: What did you like most about last year’s show?

Kathy: I very much enjoyed being able to interact with the craftspeople and work with our wonderful volunteers, as well as the incredible Chicago Botanic Garden volunteers, who give of their time to help make this show great.

Leslie: Last year’s show was especially well-received and we were blessed with great weather. Fingers crossed that we get the same great shopping weather this year!

Q: As co-chairs, what are your goals for ACE 2018?

Kathy: We hope that with the excellent quality of our exhibitors, the improved tent, and the beauty of the Chicago Botanic Garden, we will increase attendance in order to provide additional funds toward our goal and greater exposure for our artists.

Leslie: We’d always like to have more applications from artists, more customers, and raise more money for our NorthShore beneficiary, mental health care access. This year, we also made it a priority to enhance the comfort and ease of attending the show and have worked on improvements for that.

ACE 2018 will be held at the Chicago Botanic Garden September Friday, September 21 – Sunday, September 23. For more information about the show, click here.

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