Dear Friends and Supporters of The Other Side,
In preparing a little presentation for a Family Reunion this summer, I came across the fact that my great-great-grandfather on my maternal grandmother's side was an exhorter in the Methodist Church in the Manchester area in England. I figured that exhorting may be in my blood, so I mean to try to see if I have such a talent by “urging earnestly” the making of donations to the worthy cause of The Other Side. Here goes!
Anyone involved in charitable and arts organizations today is aware of the extraordinary challenges facing us. I sense evidence of the strain even at well-endowed and heavily supported places like Glimmerglass Opera – it just ain't easy. The effort to draw an audience takes up a major part of the budget, of necessity having to keep on staff people who can use all the social media, as well as make pitches using conventional print, TV and radio media.
We at The Other Side, the same as other worthy ventures, began our organization with a vision and a purpose. That hasn't changed. Our way to stay true to our commitment, to avoid the pressures and strains and lowering of standards that has to go on in all major arts organizations these days – heavens, what do you do if Donald Trump and the Koch Brothers are major funders??? - is to stay small, to take the approach that people will come through the power of attraction, or they won't. Not every non-profit can or will take such an approach. Success in most people's eyes is about getting bigger, putting new items on the menu, adding a deck and outdoor seating, etc. The pressure to be more is potentially exhausting, and yielding to that pressure can eventually interfere with - or even contradict - the original vision.
After a decade in the 80's as a parish minister, I had my fill of that anxiety over “turnout.” When people want what you are producing, or when they want what you are, they will come, even in the age of Netflix. Few people can be like, or be expected to be like, our former patron Sunithi Bajekal, who rarely missed any of our events right up until her death in 2006, but we do not ask that they be. We do not put those kinds of expectations on people, but just keep the invitation alive and open.
For 9 years, The Other Side has kept itself small, with almost a neighborhood feel. With no venerable old classic building to keep in repair, no paid staff and no offices of Development or PR, all donations go directly to keep our doors open, pay the insurance, and to provide bottom line assurance that when we get more ambitious with our programming, such as with our marvelous jazz programs, we'll be covered. A big part of our security comes through the generosity of Hamilton College in recognition of our joint venture, the lecture series now entering its 9th season, and called as of this 2016-17 season, Hamilton College at The Other Side. Plus we have some faithful individual donors who don't mind remaining mainly anonymous.
With my retirement from teaching last spring, it is likely I (and Orin) will look into more grant-funded ventures in future. The continuation of the jazz series is now assured under the leadership of Mike Dubaniewicz, and now co-sponsored by the Green Onion Pub; the art gallery under the able directorship of internationally recognized sculptor Rainer Wehner, assisted by the gallery committee volunteers, is also set to hold first rate exhibitions of works by gifted local artists. We contemplate establishing a lecture series in Sunithi Bajekal's name, that would honor her devotion to issues related to peace, justice, and the environment with perhaps 3 lectures per year, one of them given by a grant-funded prominent guest lecturer. Such a series would give us a chance to use our unique position in the community as a non-corporate funded venue, and to stretch our legs in the important area of independent, non-partisan, non-corporate public information/education. Plus we continue to be a space where young musicians in our Utica area can put themselves before an audience. Thus TOS performs a valuable incubator function for our children who aspire to be artists.
Above all, the fact that we manage to keep an independent space open for use by people in our local community is what we are proudest of. Over the years we have hosted a local theater company, poetry readings by local poets, a support group for LGBT youth, Occupy Utica, salsa, Tango and ballroom dance classes and now a Lindy Hop dance group, book groups, yoga classes, a group for herbal study, meditation groups, a pre-school play group, and more. The fact that we had available day time space has allowed Mike Haritos, cheese importer extraordinaire from Scarsdale NY, to take the risk to come here and provide our Utica community with the finest selection of cheeses available in NYS outside of New York City.
If you are receiving this email and feeling pleased that such a place exists in your community, consider making a pledge or donation that will help us to continue on as the unique Utica place we are, filling a spot no other organization in our area could fill. Any size donation is welcome!! We are a bona fide 5013c and all donations are tax deductible. Make out checks to The Other Side, send c/o Kim Domenico, 2011 Genesee St., Utica NY 13501.
Plus, we welcome volunteers, particularly to help with art gallery staffing. Anyone interested in the committee to establish the lecture series mentioned above, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 735-4825.
Exhortation over! Thank you for your time. See you at (not on!) ☺The Other Side!
Rent, utilities and insurance costs for one year total $9,460. (We have no paid staff.) This means, if 95 people pledged just $10 per month, we could easily meet our basic costs. Chances are, given the state of the economy, we won’t hear from 95 of you. But if those of you who are able can pledge $20 per month, this would go a great way toward keeping The Other Side a stable enterprise, especially during July-August when our activities slow down. Please consider giving your support, in whatever amount you can afford.
You can make monthly or quarterly payments, or you can write out a check for the year’s pledge to:
The Other Side, c/o Kim Domenico
17 Grant St.
Utica, NY 13501
Thank you for your support!