As I write this post, I can feel the stress I had around hosting an event that I planned in about three weeks dissolve. It’s a great feeling.
Last night, I hosted the first Reversapalooza at the Art Café in NYC. My aim was to make the money back from everything I put into it and then donate the rest to charity that was specifically geared to reversing climate change. We came close, and raised just north of $800, but fell a little short.
Well, damn. I wake up this morning having lost money. Even in the short period where I pulled this together, there were things I could have done to come out financially ahead, but there is no good reason to dwell on that. The learnings and connections that resulted from this event were invaluable.
First of all, we made some incredible art.
What did I learn?
- Be smart about costs. I should have negotiated with the bar and gotten a % from drink sales to go to a charity. I didn’t need to reserve the space for as long as I did. We could have done a much better job on selling raffle tickets.
- Increase ownership of the party with more advance time. More than half of the people were there because I asked them to. Getting artists and acts on the schedule beforehand allows everyone to have a way to reach out to their connections.
- Plan in advance. After I decided I was moving to Seattle, and having been inspired by Seth Godin to just jump in to any idea that I feel compelled to do. But I could have planned at least a month more in advance, and I pulled this together way too quickly. With more time we could have done much better outreach to more people.
- Bundling too many things into one is both a blessing and curse. Part of my motivation was to premier a film but in the end I didn’t end up playing it. Here is a link to watch it. I also wanted to play music live in NYC at a place where people would pay money to come. That happened. But that also restricted me to having to find a venue, whereas if I only had artists painting we could have just set up in a section of a park during the day.
- It is imperative to think through the intended audience. I started with focusing on getting corporate sponsors (I didn’t get any). Then I went for people who were part of Climate Week NYC – ~20 people showed up for that reason, from my friends another 30 people but it was through partnering with a group like Metta Makers where ~30 more people who wanted to party for a purpose showed up.
- Risks are worth taking. It is only though doing this event that I now connected with MettaMakers who throw events and intentional parties all around the world. Connections were made as a result of the event that sparked ideas and new collaboration opportunities.
- You can only rely on yourself. I met someone who initially committed to going all in on this party with me which motivated me to put a deposit on the venue. When she scaled back to what she could help with there were suddenly way more things that I had to think about. Throughout the organization of this event there were a number of discussions I had with people about things that didn’t ultimately come through. A number of people who I thought were going to come didn’t. Relying on yourself doesn’t mean that you need to do it yourself, but that there need to be clear expectations of who is doing what and what is going on. Ultimately, this comes back to finding more people to give ownership to different pieces of an event.
What’s next for Reversapalooza?
By doing this event I proved the concept. Reversapalooza works. We can do more of them and get better with experience. We will find people who want to build from the heart and work with them to curate these types of events. The point of Reversapalooza is to create a space where people who give a shit about climate change come together, leverage the many different muses of expression (i.e. art, music, etc.), share an experience, maybe learn something, and have some output that people who came can walk away with. I look forward to seeding more Reversapalooza’s in the future.
Also published on Medium.