Kira Dixon-Weinstein is executive director at Mercado San Agustín, Tucson's only public market and the location of the All Souls Procession finale the past two years. A year ago, she helped start a committee to raise funds for the procession. On Friday, June 14, the committee is hosting its last event to cover the 2012 procession's remaining $12,500 of debt. It's the Night of a Thousand Parties, where supporters host fundraising parties at their homes. Those interested in hosting a party can get more information from Dixon-Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-7425.
How did you get involved with the All Souls Procession?
Paul and Nadia, the people behind Many Mouths One Stomach, met with us at Mercado San Agustín about finding a location for the All Souls Procession to end two years ago. They had outgrown their previous location and needed a place for the finale. The 2013 procession will end here for the third consecutive year.
Where did the idea for Night of a Thousand Parties come from?
We started a fundraising committee and we are trying to cover the shortfall, which was about $16,000 last year. A woman on the committee had worked for PBS when they had done something similar. There's a book, The Fundraising Houseparty by Morrie Warshawski, that helped us with it. We had the idea that people could throw parties on different scales—one person could host a dinner party and raise $300, someone else could have a big party and hopefully raise $3,000. We have DVDs and other materials for the host to show their guests that explains how all the money is used. We've whittled the debt down to about $12,500, but this is sort of it for fundraising for 2012. In September, we will start fundraising for 2013.
Is there always a shortfall?
The procession grows every year by 5,000 to 10,000 people. That always make the city and production costs more expensive. The procession cost about $75,000 in 2012. The fundraising comes from individuals, some small businesses, some merch sales and some grants, but that's really it. You're never going to see a big corporate sponsor for the event. It's a way to commemorate the dead, and that's one of the reasons they have always felt it was important to be sensitive about what kind of corporate donors we get— what kind of banner would you want at your grandmother's funeral?
Who covers the debt if you don't raise enough money?
Paul and Nadia cover any shortfall. Through Many Mouths One Stomach, they run circus camps and other things. They take on the responsibility for the debt. We thought it wasn't fair to place that debt on two people, especially because the event has become so beloved by all of Tucson. The thing is, if everyone who came to the event donated $1.50, it would be paid for.
Despite the financial challenges, why do you think it's important to have this event each year?
Tucson has embraced this event and the number of people that attend really reflects that. People travel from all over the world to participate. It's just a wonderful way to commemorate people who have passed.