Every Little Bit Helps

It will come as no surprise to anyone that fundraising for the arts is getting harder, particularly in these difficult economic times. Those who have given in the past are less likely to do so, and those who haven’t aren’t willing…not when their retirement savings have vanished, unemployment is on the rise, banks are failing and the media spends most of their time using words like “great depression” and “runs on banks.” Who can blame people for not wanting to give? It is a frightening time.

Last night, however, Bag&Baggage saw just how willing people can be, even in difficult times, to open their wallets to give to support high quality artistic work. Last night was the third of our Wine Tasting fundraising events at Renaissance Wines, based at Orenco Station in Hillsboro, called “The Wines of Halloween.” The event started at 7:00pm, but by 6:15pm we already had more than 25 people in attendance, and the numbers grew to well over 65 by the time the evening began. Over the course of the two hours of the event, our audiences listened to performances of a wide range of Halloween-themed poetry, played a couple of games, showed off their evil laughs, and left the venue just after 9:00pm having had an amazing time…and having raised more than $800 for Bag&Baggage Productions.

Mike, the owner of Renaissance, has been incredibly generous with his time and his skills, offering us essentially a bi-monthly opportunity to take over his shop, sell raffle tickets, promote our upcoming shows and generally schlep ourselves for as much cash as we can.

In the space of a year, we anticipate that our fundraising events at Renaissance will have generated nearly $8,000 in income for Bag&Baggage, which is more than we have raised in grants and corporate sponsorship in the previous year. One small business owner and a group of dedicated wine and poetry connoisseurs will raise more money for Bag&Baggage in a year than we were able to raise from private and public foundations last year. That truly is remarkable.

Now, I suppose it could be a commentary on how bad we are at applying for grants, but in fact, a small, young theatre company like ours is unlikely to generate significant grant support in our first few years. But what is important to note is that the generousity and support of those people who attend the Wine events actually increase the likelihood that we will be able to raise more money from trusts and foundations in the future. Small fundraising events like the one hosted by Renaissance Wines helps show grantors that we have community support, that we have a committed audience base and an engaged donor base, and that means it is even MORE likely that trusts will fund us.

The Wines of Shakespeare and the Wines of Halloween events may seem like small ways of raising small amounts of money, and I suppose at the core they are…but, in the larger picture, these events help us create relationships with our audiences, develop trust and loyalty, generate some significant income over time and help ensure that Bag&Baggage has a solid foundation for future, larger-scale fundraising activities.

In this economic environment, you may think that your $10 worth of raffle ticket purchases or a check for $20, or having a couple of glasses of wine…you may think these things don’t or couldn’t make a difference. You would be wrong. Every little bit helps, and often helps in a big way.

Get on our mailing list at http://www.bagnbaggage.org/ if you want to learn more about how you can drink wine to raise money for us…it is a lot of fun. And, if you want to really show your support for Bag&Baggage, buy your wine from Mike at Renaissance. He runs a business that gets how important it is to support the arts, and I truly hope you will show him how much you appreciate his generousity by going in for a glass or three.

-Scott Palmer, Artistic Director, Bag&Baggage Productions