Photo by PoPville flickr user Pablo Raw
Well this is terrible news:
“A Message From Funk Parade
It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Funk Parade will most likely not be happening in 2018. Despite an early organizing start, hundreds of hours of work and team planning, our financial situation for the 2018 event is worse than it has ever been. As it sits now, there is very little chance of raising the amount needed to put on this event in the 10 weeks we have left.
We will announce an official decision in the next few days. We wanted to inform the community now because our annual kickoff event is happening Wednesday March 7, and we could not go into it without being transparent regarding the event’s situation.
As the event has grown in popularity and size, its costs have increased beyond the community’s ability to fund it. While support from the community has remained strong, small-dollar donations from residents and local businesses are not enough to meet the event’s budget. Funk Parade has come to rely increasingly on larger contributions and sponsorships to cover what individuals and local businesses cannot.
Unfortunately, the vision of the event is at odds with what many larger sponsors say they want, and some don’t see the point of the event at all.
Funk Parade seeks to be warmly inclusive for all Washingtonians; sponsors ask why we don’t focus on attracting the key moneyed demographics they seek. Funk Parade celebrates DC’s arts and culture in the heart of the city, but we are encouraged to move it to empty lots on the fringes. Funk Parade seeks to celebrate the human spirit alive in DC’s music and arts, while sponsors ask why we can’t make their product or brand the event’s focus.
Funk Parade also refuses to adopt tactics other festivals do to make their budget. While many public events do not pay performers, Funk Parade has remained committed to paying artists fairly for their work. Other festivals design themselves to charge massive vendor fees or drive alcohol sales, while Funk Parade attempts to create an environment that is supportive of local businesses and are welcoming and safe for all.
These are the values Funk Parade can’t abandon, because they are the values that have brought the community together to make the event a reality. In short, there is no Funk Parade without those values, because it would no longer be the mighty Funk Parade. It would be just another festival.
This city is not short of entities with the means to support an event like Funk Parade; but it appears to be short of entities with the heart and vision to grasp the importance of doing so. The event’s total budget — roughly $200,000 — is decimal dust for many organizations, including those who profit from changes driving the social tensions Funk Parade attempts to ease through celebration.
There are other challenges, too: we’re running out of space. As the neighborhoods that host Funk Parade are developed, empty lots which once hosted stages have become luxury buildings. It’s a cruel irony to watch more wealth pour into the city — pour into the very lots where very recently, Washingtonians from very different backgrounds danced and made music together — while raising funds for the event has become more difficult. There are still empty lots, but their owners are often outside the neighborhood or city and don’t see the value or importance of hosting a community event.
So here we are.
Since its inception, Funk Parade has been organized by an all-volunteer team and a huge, collaborative network of community groups, arts organizations, schools, churches, businesses and others. To the hundreds of people who walked blocks collecting signatures, who donated sandwiches and pizza to feed marching bands and fed stage performers with homemade pie, who gave space to host meetings, who planned lineups, who staffed the stages, who posted no parking signs and drove trucks and answered questions and handled PR and hosted special events — thank you. We hope that the Funk Parades that were produced with your contributions honored the effort and heart you gave.
While the event is not likely to occur this year, the dream of Funk Parade is still alive and the values which animate it do not leave us. We hope a day will return when the value and importance of love in our city is felt again, enough to be celebrated in our streets, with music and dancing. We hope that day will come soon, because we believe the city needs it now more than ever.
We hope that you will join us tomorrow, Wednesday March 7th to celebrate everything that is positive and inspirational about Funk Parade. To our partners, sponsors and venues who are already working on activations, we thank you and will be reaching out individually in the next couple of days. This is a time we urgently need to reflect on how we can be the city we mean to be, which supports our arts and community.
Justin and Chris”