Wednesday, February 06, 2008

In This Months Business Monthly

I took a departure my usual commentary to make an unadulterated fundraising pitch for the 21st Annual Columbia Festival of the Arts. The festival needs some serious help this year.

You see, as much as some people like to beat up on the developers and the home builders in Howard County, they are the ones who have been disproportionately represented in sponsorships for the festival. As you may have noticed, the real estate business isn’t doing all that great lately. That in turn has had a negative impact on festival fundraising.

A few facts are in order here. The festival costs in excess of a million bucks. That doesn’t count the value of the time that the hundreds of volunteers add to the equation. In our business we call that leveraging up. The community gets a great deal. It gets a free three day Lakefest (which still puts the best stage at the lakefront), artists workshops and masters classes for the schools, a community art project (this year it’s the birdhouses), a parade, and world class performances in the intimate 700 seat Rouse Theatre.

Even if all the paid events sell out (which occurred about three times last summer) it would not cover the cost of the performances. Donations by corporations and individuals subsidize the entire sixteen day festival and keep ticket prices generally affordable. A business can participate for as little as five hundred bucks and an individual can “join” the festival for as little as fifty bucks and yes, membership does have its privileges.

In addition to the corporate and individual donors, the festival holds a raffle and a special fundraising event. Last year the fundraiser was a dinner in the Spear Center atop the General Growth Building in Town Center. The guest appearance last year was John Waters. It was a pretty wild evening.

This year’s fundraiser will be held on Friday May 9th in the Spear Center and will feature comedienne Paula Poundstone. The theme for the evening is Black Tie and Bling Bling. The entire sixteen day festival schedule will be made public in mid March.

If you could see a way to help the festival this year it would be greatly appreciated. You can contact Leigh Murphy at the festival office to learn how you can help. The festival office is located in Town Center at 5575 Sterrett Place, Suite 280. The phone number is (410) 715-3044.
Or drop me an email.

And to show that I put my “bones” where my words are, I have donated all of my 2008 income from the Business Monthly to the festival.