In the end, it all came down to sheer stubbornness.
It was the night of the second annual Murals Gala—our fundraiser for the cash needed for this summer's murals.
And the room was looking a bit empty. You see, we had mistakenly scheduled our Gala on the same night that the Seattle Men's Chorus was at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.
Gulp! How could we miss that?
Well, we did.
So, there we Edmonds Mural Society Board members were, looking around at a room that, to my auctioneer's eye, seemed pretty light on numbers.
Ironically, this subject of whether we could pull it off at all this year has been weighing increasingly on the minds of the Board. The Gala's light attendance seemed testimony enough.
At the last Art Walk, I remember pulling Edmonds Arts Commission chair Frances Chapin aside to confess my fears. She sweetly listened and offered her encouragement.
Yes, she agreed, the economic environment is not good. However, some arts organizations were managing to come through OK, she thought.
The question is how?
As I mounted the podium to begin the auction, all these questions flitted through my mind.
Here we are, I thought, in the third winter of economic discontent. After all, there is an exhaustion in the air. I see it everyday in the retail traffic on the sidewalk.
My art gallery's first quarter experienced a 7 percent drop in sales over the same period last year. And let me tell you, last year was nothing to write home about ...
What happened to the recovery? Are we, after all, looking at a double-dip recession?
In any case, these deepening economic worries have very much been on the minds of the board these past few months.
Nevertheless, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We scheduled a fundraiser, the second annual Murals Gala. We recruited a number of very attractive packages from local merchants to be auctioned, including, believe it or not, a couple of yacht cruises.
The board had asked me to write and stage a comedy for last year's Gala. However, I've been dry as a playwright since last fall. So, for entertainment this year, the board recruited, at a substantial discount, the well-regarded Northwest magician Bruce Meyers.
The board obtained wine at cost from Arista Wine Cellars and arranged a bevy of heavy hors d'oeuvres donated outright from top restaurants. My personal faves were the Kalbi beef skewers from The Loft, smoked scallop pastries from Arnie's, and bacon-wrapped dates from Demetris Woodstone Taverna.
Demetris is new, down there at the ferry. In fact, Demetri was instrumental in helping to find us a wall for one of this summer's murals.
Michiko Tanaka's "Edmonds Underwater Park" will be painted on the wall of Waterfront Coffee Company. Imagine driving down the hill to the ferry every day and seeing Michiko's work up there.
If we could raise the money for it.
Which was my job.
All this, as I began, wondering if we could make it happen this year. And that's when I saw it.
As we trotted out package after glittering package during the evening, only to see them auctioned off at a fraction of their worth, I noticed something.
This dawning realization in the eyes of the crowd. The realization was twofold ...
- We don't have all that much money to spend.
- We're all we've got.
And that, in the final analysis, is what got us through. That gut determination from the members in attendance that night not to give in.
And that's how we did it. (Again!)
Thanks, guys. You should be very proud. I am.