Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What people don't realize about running a festival....

is that it's scary as shit.  This year marked our 2nd Annual Southern Fried Burlesque Fest here in Atlanta, GA.  It was amazing, it was spectacular, it was truly breath taking and it almost didn't happen.  It costs us around $17,000 to produce Southern Fried Burlesque Fest 2011, so last year we were in the hole around $5,000 (maybe more, I'd have to check) at the end of the weekend.  (And no, Ursula Undress and I do not get paid and have, in fact thrown personal money into it that we know we'll never get back)  We knew it was a risk, but we did it anyway because we love burlesque, we love the community, we love being able to offer classes and performances that you cannot normally find in Atlanta and most of the Southeast.  We also really wanted it to all be in one location so people wouldn't have to find rides, stay at different hotels, etc... so people could actually spend time together and make actual friends.  A wonderful person who wishes to remain anonymous loaned us the money for the deposit this year we were able to start on 2012 while we finished paying off all the bills from 2011.  Thanks to a fundraiser with The 2011 Queen of Burlesque, Miss Indigo Blue, in November we returned the loaned hotel deposit then and SFBF 2011 was paid off in December of 2011 thanks to a very successful Tits for Toys for Tots show by Syrens of the South.  So we started 2012 at zero towards SFBF 2012.

As people purchased weekend passes we bought everything we knew we had to have: air fare for the guests we flew in; actual badges (you have to admit, they were awesome); programs; and miscellaneous items like the crowns, ink, labels and paper for the printers, etc....  Come February we were starting to freak out, what if no body came to the festival, what if we bought 144 t-shirts (the shops minimum) and no one bought any, etc....these are all things that every producer is terrified of, but with an $18,000 bill, it's that much more terrifying.  There was some praying, some soul searching and many, many back up plans for the what if scenarios, but people came!

People didn't just come, but people came in droves.  People volunteered and we had help this year! (Last year we had, and I am not exaggeration, 4 volunteers)  The shows were amazing, the class schedule was amazing and everyone who came brought a special part of the festival with them and made the entire weekend magical.  So thank you!  Seriously, I mean that will all of my little black heart, THANK YOU!  I won't lie, we still didn't break even.  Syrens is going to throw in money to help cover the difference (that's the point of owning a production company, right, to help with productions?) and there's a chance that Ursula and I may have to turn tricks (I'm kidding) but we were so close and that's with starting at zero on January 1st.

So what does this tell me?  We're definitely doing it again next year!  With not having as much to pay off from the previous year 2013 should be much easier for us to put together.  Less heart attacks all around for everyone.  We've learned a lot this year from issues that have come up and we think that we're finally getting in a position to make it truly amazing as we have some of the very best volunteers in the world so it is not all on myself and Ursula.  So next year should be bigger and better then 2012, just like 2012 was bigger and better then 2011.

However, you guys will have to be patient as one of the big things we learned was pay off the previous year before starting the next one, so please be patient while we do that and then we'll be announcing next year's Southern Fried Burlesque Fest!

PS. Please note that these are my opinions and not necessarily those of Ursula or anyone else as I didn't ask them, lol.