Lessons Learned From Producing the V-Day San Clemente 2011 Benefit Performances of ‘The Vagina Monologues’

One month ago today, V-Day San Clemente 2011 gave our first benefit performance of “The Vagina Monologues” at Knuckleheads. Although we’d prepared and rehearsed for several weeks, none of us knew quite what to expect. It was a first for us all.

We had no specific financial fundraising goal in mind. My main goals for our events were to have all three events go smoothly and be filled to capacity with attendees.

While we didn’t quite accomplish both of those goals, the events were still a tremendous success.

We filled the bar close to capacity, about 150 people, at both evening performances. Our matinee wasn’t full, but it wasn’t sparse either. I estimated we had about 50 people for that performance.

When all was said and done, we raised more than $5,000. After expenses, we were able to donate about $4,200 to Laura’s House and the V-Day Spotlight Campaign, which for this year was the women and girls of Haiti.

We couldn’t have done it without the help from our wonderful sponsors: Buds Famous Hot Dogs, Mathom House Books, Knuckleheads and San Clemente Patch.

It was such a joy to watch the whole show come together. The actresses did beautifully, and we brought dozens of new people to my and Mr. Man’s favorite local bar. As we liked to joke with the bartenders and owner Brick Bailey, it was probably the most vagina Knuckleheads had ever seen.

In fact, when we’ve been back a couple times since the performances, I’ve seen a bunch of new faces at the bar. I haven’t had a chance to confirm with the staff, but I would say business has definitely picked up at Knuckleheads, which makes me ecstatic. Everyone at Knuckleheads helped us so much; I want to see them doing well.

Never Give Up – A Solution Will Come

I didn’t have a chance to write much about the process of organizing the events while working on the V-Day San Clemente benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues.” As usual, I underestimated how much time and energy producing the performances would take. However, along the way I faced two large obstacles:

  1. Find a fiscal sponsor.
  2. Secure a venue.

When I signed up to produce “The Vagina Monologues” I did so with the knowledge that Patch, where I am employed as a freelance writer and Mr. Man is the editor for San Clemente Patch, expressed interest in being our fiscal sponsor. That would make putting on the production much easier since I would have their help with costs on things like the venue, merchandise and promotional materials.

However, when the deadline arrived, Patch was unable to help us. Their nonprofit arm, Patch.org, was not operating yet and for whatever reason the for-profit part of Patch couldn’t be our fiscal sponsor either.

Fortunately, San Clemente Patch agreed to be one of our regular sponsors.

Try as I may to find another fiscal sponsor though, I came up empty-handed.

As the shows’ producer and organizer, it was my responsibility to make them happen, so I decided I would be our fiscal sponsor.

That had me more than a little nervous when I faced the second obstacle: Secure a venue.

V-Day encourages its organizers to work within the communities where the events are hosted.  The San Clemente Community Center had a theater, and it seemed to be a perfect fit. Yet because we weren’t a recognized local nonprofit, they refused to give us the nonprofit rate (even though 90 percent of everything we raised was going to a local nonprofit). Plus, they wouldn’t let us sell tickets at the door, and they wanted us to get permits to sell food and alcohol. We also would need to purchase insurance for serving and having alcohol and food available to the public.

To make a long story short: They wanted to charge me a total of more than $5,000 to use their venue for all three performances.

Clearly the San Clemente Community Center was not going to work if we wanted to have any money left over to actually donate to the charities.

The ladies at the San Clemente Community Center recommended that I try the San Clemente Elks Lodge. I did, and it would cost around $2,500 to go with them, but they couldn’t give me a definitive answer by my Monday deadline.

I didn’t know what to do.

It was a Friday night with a month to our show, and we had no venue. I went home defeated.

I told Mr. Man who was about to go meet a friend at Knuckleheads for some drinks. While talking to our friend at the bar, he mentioned our predicament to Brick who said we could do all our performances at Knuckleheads for free.

And just like that, at the very last minute when all seemed lost, a simple solution appeared.

Face Your Fears

Another personal goal of mine with the V-Day San Clemente benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” was to do the introduction. My small “role” was to thank everyone for coming, explain how and where our proceeds went, and thank our sponsors – a speech of maybe two minutes.

Just visualizing speaking in front of a large crowd sent my pulse racing.

But I wrote out my piece, practiced it and – although I was still extremely nervous – delivered it just fine. (Although I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the help I received from the couple of drinks I downed before getting on stage.)

If You Build It, They Will Come

Who doesn’t love “Field of Dreams,” right? I always liked the premise of the movie, but I believe in that iconic phrase more than ever now.

I had zero theater experience and only the support of Mr. Man when I put the call out for help with putting on the production of “The Vagina Monologues.” And yet I attracted a dream team of a cast and crew for this passion project. I could not have asked for a more talented, accomplished group of people to help me.

When you have a pure and noble goal in mind, people will help you; you just have to ask.

So that’s it for V-Day San Clemente 2011. I may have had my moments of terror and panic, but I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. May your next passion project bring you as much joy and personal growth as mine did for me.

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This entry was posted in Goals, Happiness Goals, Life Lessons, Volunteer and Service Goals, World Improvement Goals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lessons Learned From Producing the V-Day San Clemente 2011 Benefit Performances of ‘The Vagina Monologues’

  1. Congrats, Laura Lee on producing an amazing victory despite all the challenges you faced!! I wish I could’ve been there…

    PS. SO glad to see you’re back to blogging!!

  2. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Thanks, Jennifer! Don’t worry, you were there in spirit. 🙂

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