How to lose $100,000…

Well, we didn’t win the $100,000 21st Century Fund grant competition to help fund the annual National Buffalo Garden Festival. The winner was the Buffalo Museum of Science.

They won because they want to fund the design and planning of ten new Science Studios — an immersive integration of exhibits and programming that will reflect current science, school curriculum, tiered content for various audiences, science being done in our area and various science career paths available.  It’s an ambitious five-year plus plan that will find them fundraising ultimately millions more to create the actual studios. But it will modernize “every corner of the museum” – and be an asset for a generation.

That, and, they had cute kids in their video presentation. Next time, we use cute kids.

Only the video portion of the presentation is above. Sally Cunningham and I,  (along with technical adviser, and a maestro of a slide clicker, Matt Steinberg of the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau) did a five-minute, podium-standing, tag-team, yak-fest to go along with the slide show — that’s why the above seems incomplete and disjointed! I did the slide presentation in Apple’s Keynote, their significantly more able version of Microsoft’s Powerpoint.

Designing, scripting, and thinking through the presentation was a fun process and invaluable in trying to distill this monster of an event into the fewest images & words as possible considering the enormity of the event.  

You try selling the promotion & coordination of an event every day for five weeks — two keynote speakers, four day-long workshops, four bus tours, a landscape competition on 19 homes, concerts, parties, 30-some open garden tours two days a week, exhibitions, 70 visiting garden writers & bloggers, and 18 neighborhood garden tours.

We’re still going to make this happen. The greatest regret is that we’ll not be able to promote it as broadly as we’d like to see it done, which could lesson its beneficial economic impact to the area.

My fear is that we may not be able to fund our Project Coordinator. At some point, we’ll run out of budgeted funds the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau has set aside for this undertaking. The coordinator (Sally Cunningham) is more than willing to donate volunteer hours, but those may become minimal, as she’s a full-time garden center employee, sought-after garden consultant, newspaper columnist, freelance garden writer, has a Sunday morning TV gig, and is a much-in-demand speaker. And it’s hard to fit as many hours into a volunteer project this size when the other things pay!

We have submitted a proposal to another foundation — for a significantly more modest sum than $100,000. And we’ll submit proposals to other groups & foundations, as timing and opportunities arise. As summer ends, we’ll be trying to solicit corporate sponsorships and advertisers for next year’s Festival.

This is an unprecedented collaboration of dozens of non-profits, businesses, professional associations, cultural attractions, plant societies and garden tours that will have a huge impact (over time) in how Buffalo is perceived regionally and nationally.

And it will help bring in tourism dollars (I’m hearing hotels are pretty much full now, for Garden Walk weekend).

If you happen to have an extra $100,000 sitting around, I’d like to talk to you.

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

0 comments on “How to lose $100,000…

  1. Bummer but good for the BMS.


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