Also as you may (or may not) know, Chicago (my home town) has an enormous Catholic population, because of the large German, Polish, Irish, and Hispanic neighborhoods in the city and its environs. This has resulted in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago being comprised of (and this is an exact figure) a GAZILLION Catholic Churches, most of which have a Catholic Elementary School attached.
Lastly, as you may (or may not) know, most churches of any denomination have one thing in common....they are in debt up to their altar rails! The debt usually is comprised mostly of large mortgages and other loans which funded the building of the churches, church halls, parking lots, and in the case of most Catholic and many Episcopal and Lutheran churches, elementary or high schools. Although most of the congregational donations are as generous as the parishioners can manage, the money gathered NEVER equals the money needed. Until those mortgages and loans are finally paid off, by and large churches are always in financial difficulties.
Thus, churches are always looking for ways to raise money....bake sales, Christmas Bazaars, raffles, Bingo, school fairs, and such abound in church communities to give the parishioners a break from sermons from the pulpit continually asking for money. At least with a Christmas Bazaar you go home with a crocheted TP cover to make up for your empty pockets!
Somewhere in the early 70s, someone at a Catholic church in a NW suburb of Chicago, came up with the most brilliant (and successful) fundraising activity ever conceived.
As witnessed by any Karaoke Night in any town across the US, there are an enormous number of people who are talented to varying degrees and are more than willing and eager to share their talents with others. Some are actually on their way to a professional career as an entertainer and others are just wannabees, but there are lots and lots of them.
OK, you with me so far?
Well, what that church decided to do was, in essence, hold Cabaret shows in the schools, with some of the talented parishioners and sell tickets to raise funds. Please understand it was much more than just a little church talent show. Oh my yes, MUCH more! And the idea was copied, modified, and spread to several other Catholic Churches, where it grew and grew and grew!
By the time Mikey and I became involved in our Church's effort it had grown to a parish-wide activity involving more than 800 people (singers, dancers, comedians, musicians, cooks, bartenders, lighting and sound technicians, seamstresses, parking attendants, coat check staff, waitresses, ticket sellers, crowd control, clean up crews, raffle sellers, and more. To say nothing of the administrative types who had the ultimate responsibility for oversight and problem-solving. Yep, it was huge! It took months to put it all together and there were about a dozen different churches that did it every year for 10-15 YEARS!
At this point I'm sure you have no real idea of what I'm talking about, so I will try to explain clearly enough so that you can understand the scope of what I am talking about.
Our parish called its event, "Festival". There was an overall chairman found each year (some even did it twice!!) who would contact individuals and
The school at our parish had several classrooms with removable dividers to make some rooms into double classrooms for various and sundry events This made it easy to create several double rooms where a stage was built, a section designated for a band, a minuscule "backstage" for the performers to enter and exit, and the rest of the space was for seating and was filled with about 50-75 folding chairs. In addition there was a "holding room/bar" in the room next door, where audience could sit prior to a show and have a drink and some nibblies while waiting.
There were 2 weekends (4 nights) of performances and the school kids took their Spring Break during the week between the 2 weekends. Because school was closed for the week and all of the desks had been put into storage, each room was able to leave their stage and set-up in place for the week until the 2nd weekend. Each room's show was unique and changed every year. The shows generally ran 30-40 minutes and were repeated several times a night.
The purchase of a ticket would allow entry to the building and the audience member to see ALL of the shows depending on how late they were willing to stay! On performance nights the doors opened at 7:30 and the shows ran as many times as they had an audience! They usually did anywhere from 4 to 6 shows a night depending the size of the crowd.
It was a great idea and it worked! I'll tell you more about it tomorrow!!
♪♪....What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come, hear the music play.....♪