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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Friday July 19th 2024

“IT”'S UP TO US!” May Day

By Sandy Spieler

The Economics of MayDay: 

MayDay has miraculously thrived in somewhat of a “gift economy”””a mixture of monetary donations from individuals, combined with labor and vision donations from many, many volunteers, along with a cadre of artists and organizers hired for MayDay who blend countless hours of volunteer labor within their honorariums fees.

Some questions you might have:

Who Produces MayDay?

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre is responsible for the production of Mayday. It is a year-round process for our staff””fundraising, organizing, training artists, securing permits, with addressing logistical and creative questions that take all of our skills to support the community in producing the final event.


photo by Amy Wurdock

photo by Amy Wurdock

How is the MayDay budget structured and why the reduction this year?


People and people services: (fulltime and part-time artists, organizers, security, traffic  control, recycling, etc.): $91,290* (note: this represents about 80 people)

Powderhorn Park Fee: $4,500

Printing, promotion, and fundraising mailings: $6,700

Supplies for puppets: $2,500*

Equipment rental (porta-potties, sound systems, trucks): $8,100

Space rental: $9,500

Miscellany (volunteer food, tee shirts, permits, etc.): $6,545



Earned fees (vendors, information booths, join-in fees): $21,500

Concessions (tee-shirts, posters): $6,000

Ad sales for the program: $10,000

Solicited contributions before Mayday: $32,000

Contributions collected on MayDay: $12,250

Grant from COMPAS/United Arts: $6,750

Sponsorships: $30,000 (note: not certain of this yet)

In the Heart of the Beast General Operating support: $9,650 (note: not certain of this yet)

TOTAL INCOME: $129,150

*With expenses, supplies for puppets are only $2,500, with a priority on people costs: $91,290. We are proud of that.

^All our income is uncertain and mostly raised from many donations of small amounts. ”¢

photo by Amy Wurdock

photo by Amy Wurdock

It takes both money and volunteers! Over the years, as the MayDay Parade and Festival grew, there have many added organizational expenses for permits, fees, staff, and more. Many people do not realize that MayDay costs a lot of money””that it is a year-long project to assure its wonderfulness each year. In the Heart of the Beast Theatre subsidizes the expenses from its general operating support, and began an increased focus both on donations for the day of MayDay itself and on community group sponsorships. The recent years have been difficult for two main reasons:

With the general economic downturn, HOBT has had less to offer from its general operating support.

Two years in a row of unfortunate weather really hurt our donations the day of MayDay itself (2 years ago we had frigid weather of 35 degrees all day, and this past year MayDay was delayed one week due to rain).

Our budget cutback this year is hopefully realistic, but not optimistic about the weather: it”'s a 33% reduction. The cuts were all taken in people hired””other expenses remain fixed. For instance, I have hired only 7 artists, instead of the 14 of last year. There are 6 Festival Coordinators instead of 9. MayDay staff reductions have me particularly concerned for the smooth and safe running of the public parade-building workshops, with hundreds of attendees, as well as for running MayDay itself smoothly and safely. To do the work, we will need additional volunteers.

Each year we rely on about 200 volunteers to produce Mayday, not counting who is in the parade or ceremony. The more years someone volunteers, the more skilled they are. That helps us greatly. Volunteering can be as little as a one-time deal on MayDay itself, or as long as the 4 weeks of consistent support we need for the public workshops beforehand. This is especially crucial in 2013 as we hire fewer artists.

Could you be a workshop volunteer this year? We will need help finding Block Hosts. Would you be one? Could you be a volunteer on the day of MayDay to help set up or tear down the Festival?  

photo by Liz Welch

photo by Liz Welch

Can Mayday be sustained by many people, or by several big corporations (as some recommended)? 

I believe MayDay can be sustained by the strength of the neighborhood, built by donations from people who want it to continue as a community art-making, vision-stretching, life-affirming event. If everyone who comes to MayDay contributed $5, (less than the cost of a movie), then Mayday would flourish, end of story. 30,000 people each giving 5 dollars: that is $150,000!

We need your help to keep MayDay with its freedom of expression rising honestly from the community. Would you really wish to see a corporation brand MayDay with their logo? Coca Cola, for instance””do you remember the 2007 Mayday theme of water (“Somos Agua”) with its plea to end the proliferation of plastic bottled water and the selling of water for a profit? Coca Cola is a major producer of bottled water (Dasani). Would they have allowed the community to speak negatively about privatized water?

photo by Amy Wurdock

photo by Amy Wurdock

Lets then build a broad base of financial and volunteer support to assure the future sustainability of MayDay! In the Heart of the Beast Theatre cannot do it alone.”¢Â 

How do we build a broad base of financial support? (of 30,000!)

Are there those among you who would step forward to inspire a group of your friends to support MayDay financially? Say, 10 or 20 friends? One idea is to set goals for various teams of people, then have those teams come to a dinner in the “parade-build” workshop the night before it all begins (April 5th). Another idea is to host fundraising breakfasts and brunches on the day of the event. Teams can be made up of children, teens, beautiful young adults, families, old timers, you name it. You probably have better ideas than I do! Who is it that loves MayDay?

Are there organizations or clubs that could be a sponsor of MayDay, such as your co-op, or church? What other ideas do you have?

We now ask for donations on the day of MayDay itself (such as when people purchase tickets to events). How could we do this in a fun, successful way?

If the MayDay Parade and Festival is to have a long life, inspiring and delighting generations yet to come, it must have the community”'s financial and volunteer support. That is the simple fact of it. Now is the time to help continue this tradition.

Looking forward to MayDay Meetings and MayDay, Sandy

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