The Lasse story ending (On Love and Aferlove. Story 5 and 6) has to wait. This is the time for a fundraising story. Fundraising is a time consuming beast of frustration. All I want to do is to make the film. All I get to do it to raise money. At least it seems that way.
Some people sleep with their enemies, some – with their lovers. Lately I sleep with my nightmares.
Like, the recent one, very life-like – that all my fundraising schemes had failed and I had zero dollars on my bank account and the creditors were making tight circles around me like sharks. I had to get a job. So I went to a restaurant to apply for a waitressing job. But in front of the door there was already a long line of young people applying for the same job. They were more qualified than me because they had spent all their young summers waiting tables at summer vacation joints. Believe it or not, I had never waited tables, although I believe that given a chance, I would make a good bartender as I like multitasking, enjoy most of people and I like drinks but not enough to drink them all. But I don’t have a license, no experience and I am old. Well, older than 19.
Looking at my young competition I got cold feet.
– What are my other options?- I feverishly thought. – Where else I could get a job?
I can’t do a temp job at an office because my English is only so so and my typing skills are abysmal. I can’t get into finance because I don’t like cocaine. I can’t apply for engineering job because my Math is very poor. No shoe store would hire me based on the shoes am wearing (Dansko worn to shreds). I was dismissed once from applying for warehouse box moving job because I was ‘overqualified’.
I realized I have no other skills to offer but art making and storytelling. There is no other way for me.
– I have to go back to fundraising, try harder, and enjoy it while doing it, – I said to myself and woke up.
On April 28th the fundraising event dedicated to raising funds for “Rocks In My Pockets” took place at Minnewaska Lodge, Gardiner, NY. It was women-only event, with a catchy name: “Food, Film and Sex”. A wild girls’ night out.
Here’s the lodge’s Conference Room in the afternoon light an hour before the event:
We were going to auction off a few items, including my artwork. Here’re the two auction tables (note the paper sheets with pens by each piece – to sign up for the silent auction):
As it got dark, the event coordinator Robin Hayes introduced Woodstock Film Festival director Meira Blaustein who, in turn, introduced me. I went ahead and explained everything I know about sex (a dangerous drug that must be used with caution and in abundance), birth (it is a scary enterprise for all participating parties), virginity (something to lose), love for men (inexplicable still sweet), being an artist (brutal lifestyle) and mental illness (something to make a film about). I pitched “Rocks In My Pockets”.
After that Kay Churchill run the auction which brought us more than $2000. The other beautiful volunteers made sure the event went smoothly. The spilled drinks were wiped, the dropped food picked up, the mood cheerful and bright.
Four and half hours later just before Minnewaska Lodge closed the Conference Room we took the last picture. The heart of the organizing team.
I don’t know about you, but for me before April 28, 2011 fundraising events were always shrouded in a mystery. How do they originate? What is involved in putting one up? What are the risks and what are the gains?
This particular event originated on March 7th, when I sent out an email to my emailing list pleading for support.
– I am desperate and I would take anything you have to offer. Advise, suggestions included,- the message said.
Robin Hayes emailed me back and offered to organize a fundraising party.
– It should be girls’ night out. Women only, – she said.
The girl had a vision. I said YES. Robin, who lives in New Paltz rolled up her sleeves and got to work. First she found a venue. Minnewaska Lodge donated us for one night the use of their sunlit, spacious conference room with a terrace overlooking a ridge.
Then we had to make sure we had enough people in the area that were interested to come. Meira Blaustein, the director of Woodstock Film Festival, sent out an invite to her list.
Robin started to sell tickets. $35 each. They went like hot cakes. This freaked me out – I can barely get people to free screenings. Why are they buying tickets?
But this was not your ordinary screening. This was a fundraising party. Big difference. Party means drinks and food.
So, Robin set out to ask local businesses for donations in food and wine.
Soon, several restaurants committed to give appetizers, entries and deserts. Local wineries and distilleries – to give booze of all kinds, all local!
That was good but not enough for Robin. She wanted presence of the beauty at the event – after all, it was girls’ night out and what accents the female beauty the best? That’s right, flowers. She got two local florists to donate flower arrangements.
The posters, programs and event proposals were printed by a local print ship.
– We have to have an auction at the event, – Robin announced.
– My art won’t sell, – I was negative.
– Not only your art, everything we can get, – Robin stayed positive.
Ask and you shall receive. Again, Robin asked local businesses for items to put on auction and she received handmade jewelry, hair styling session, membership to Opera House and many other cool things.
– Kay will run the auction, she knows all there is to know about running auctions.
Kay Churchill came on board. She came to New York to get my artwork (color drawings, cells, acrylic paintings, paper mache sculptures) then she catalogued everything she got – matching names of the items with the prices.
– You should wear something nice, – Robin suggested when the time came for me to pack and come to the event. – We want to see some glamor.
April 28th morning was cloudy in New York.
– It is raining cats and dogs here, – the report came from Upstate. Later I found it, it was raining so hard with thunder so loud that cats and dogs were cowering under beds and tables.
– I’ll ask my Latvian Gods to stop the rain before the event, – I promised.
– Early afternoon would be better, – the request came from Upstate. – The terrace needs to dry up a little before the event.
The Latvian Gods complied with my pleas and indeed, the rain stopped by 2 PM.
The Sun came out and massaged the terrace for few hours. At 6 PM the terrace dryly greeted the first arriving guests. The fun was about to start.
It takes a village to make a film. Here’s the list of individuals and businesses that supported the event:
36 Main Restaurant
Bardavon Opera House
Bridge Creek Caterers
Catskill Mountain Sugar House
Colucci Shand Realty
Flowers by Elissa
Handmade and More
In Good Taste
Main Course Catering
Manny’s Art Supply
New Paltz Motors
Shapers Hair Salon
Tuthill House at the Mill
Village Market and Bakery
Woodstock Film Festival