Revolution #251, December 1, 2011
SUCCEEDING WITH THE GOAL
$23,000 by December 12 for Occasioned by BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World
|For everyone who has dreamed of a different and better world or wondered how art and culture can be part of creating it, this is a film that needs to be seen. But it won't be made without your support.
If you want to contribute to changing the culture in our society, to bringing into being a culture that is uplifting instead of degrading, to tapping into people's highest aspirations in opposition to a me-first ethos, and to opening up mental space to engage and explore ideas of fundamental change... if you like the idea of celebrating revolution and the vision of a new world through art, dance, theater and music and think a wide range of people from different perspectives need to be part of that, then you need to contribute and help raise the funds for this film to be made.
But in order to produce it, and release it, $23,000 is required by December 12. Reaching this goal is essential, and possible.
What is this film going to be about?
Last April, a range of artists, musicians, dancers and actors came together from a diversity of perspectives in a unique cultural event: On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World. BAsics is a book of quotations and short essays from Bob Avakian, the revolutionary leader who has developed a new synthesis of communism. This event brought people together who hadn't shared a stage before, and a remarkable connection was forged between these artists and the hundreds in the audience that night.
This film will tell the story of what those artists did and why they did it.
What brought together some of the top jazz musicians today, a cutting-edge "tropical punk" singer, a former member of the Black Panther Party, poets with their roots in the '60s and poets who shaped the more recent spoken-word movement? And why was all this occasioned by the release of a book from the leader who has re-envisioned revolution and communism?
Watch the trailer at indiegogo.com/basicsevent to get a taste.
The film will weave together footage from this beautiful event with interviews from artists and other participants, and it will speak powerfully to the question of how art and culture can be part of creating a different and better world. It will speak to why and how all this diversity was brought together around celebrating revolution and envisioning a new world... and how that can be a harbinger for changing things in the culture and society more broadly.
Getting this film made and out into the world will be a significant contribution to the discourse and a source of inspiration to those lifting their heads and asking if there is a different way for people to think, feel and be. After leaving the event, a student described it this way, "It feels like hope. That’s honestly what it feels like..."
Succeeding in our goal
Raising the funds, and getting this film made, will change the foundation from which to go further forward with the whole campaign, BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make! A Mass Campaign to Raise Big Money to Get BA’s Vision and Works Into Every Corner of Society.
It will mean bearing down in the next ten days and really fighting it through, but not only is this possible, we can get stronger, reach out more broadly and have a big impact in the process.
Learning from experience
We're still gathering reports from the fundraising efforts over Thanksgiving where people opened up discussion about this fund campaign to their families and friends, and Black Friday where we kicked off a major fundraising initiative to raise copies of BAsics to prisoners. Stay tuned to Revolution newspaper for reports. New things were tried, new people met and new connections forged. We also raised money to send many, many dozens of copies of BAsics to prisoners (full tallies will also be printed soon).
Let’s imagine if we had a whole different art and culture. Come on, enough of this "bitches and ho’s" and SWAT teams kicking down doors. Enough of this "get low" bullshit. And how come it’s always the women that have to get low? We already have a situation where the masses of women and the masses of people are pushed down and held down low enough already. It’s time for us to get up and get on up.
Imagine if we had a society where there was culture—yes it was lively and full of creativity and energy and yes rhythm and excitement, but at the same time, instead of degrading people, lifted us up. Imagine if it gave us a vision and a reality of what it means to make a whole different society and a whole different kind of world. Imagine if it laid out the problems for people in making this kind of world and challenged them to take up these problems. Imagine if art and culture too—movies, songs, television, everything—challenged people to think critically, to look at things differently, to see things in a different light, but all pointing toward how can we make a better world.
Imagine if the people who created art and culture were not just a handful of people but all of the masses of people, with all their creative energy unleashed, and the time were made for them to do that, and for them to join with people who are more full-time workers and creators in the realm of art and culture to bring forward something new that would challenge people, that would make them think in different ways, that would make them be able to see things critically and from a different angle, and would help them to be uplifted and help them to see their unity with each other and with people throughout the world in putting an end to all the horrors that we’re taught are just the natural order of things. Imagine all that.
Three things about that experience can be said now.
First, we are in a time of rapidly shifting thinking. In this context, the fact that Avakian has done the work he has done, over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, the fact that through this he has brought forward a new synthesis of communism—a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and the fact there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal… all that stands out even more sharply right now, with even more potential to connect.
Very big questions are up among a large swath of people and we should be putting BA’s work directly in their hands. People will find a lot they resonate with in BAsics, or in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), in Avakian’s online talk: Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About or in other works. There are answers here. At the same time, people will have a lot of questions, uncertainty and differences. That’s exactly the process of engagement that is a big part of this fund campaign which is set on nothing less than "effecting a radical and fundamental change in the social and political 'atmosphere' of this whole country by projecting the whole BA vision and framework into all corners of society where it does not yet exist, or is still too little known, and getting all sorts of people to engage and wrestle with it..." (from the editorial, http://revcom.us/a/249/ba-everywhere-en.html)
Second, work has to be done to organize people now to take up the efforts of this campaign in the ways they see fit. It's not enough to open a door... people have to walk through that door. And the numbers of people taking up this campaign should be growing in the process. If someone sees the need to get copies of BAsics to prisoners, that’s an opportunity to talk with them about not just them contributing but how to reach out to others. If someone is excited about what this film will mean in society, and sees a need for the ideas in BAsics to connect up with a whole new wave in the culture, we should talk with them about hosting a house party for the weekend of December 10 & 11.
This actually concretizes and even sharpens the political wrangling people are doing. It makes people really think through what they want to see in society, and what they want to fight to make happen. We want this happening, and want to work with people to figure out how, where and why they want to carve in.
Three, we should recognize that for some people, it’s a big step to go from donating or participating in something to calling something yourself. People have questions about whether this means they’re representing for what Avakian is about, often when they have questions about this themselves. We should anticipate some people having second thoughts and keep a door open for them to raise their concerns. It’s a positive thing when people raise their questions… it means they are seriously thinking about how they want to contribute and that impels them to sharpen up their own thinking about the world and the content of BA’s vision and works.
Raising these funds really does matter to the world, and we should struggle in a good way about this with people. But we should also struggle in a good way for the space for them to contribute in the ways they feel comfortable. There is a process here of, as Avakian has put it, solid core with a lot of elasticity. Someone doesn't have to take responsibility for all of what BA is fighting for in the world to think it needs to be known. In particular, if someone is taking up a particular project—for example, raising funds for this film—all they are saying is they want this film to be made and seen. In this, it often helps if we work with people to concretize their thinking on where they do carve into this, and why they—from their perspective—want to help fund a particular project, or want to help fund the whole effort to make BA’s vision and works more widely known and engaged. (It might also be helpful to share with people the statements from people on the Host Committee for April 11 to see the range of perspectives that brought this event together.)
As we go all out, we should apply these lessons, reaching out very broadly and working with people to take this up themselves setting out to reach our largest goal of projecting BA everywhere, making what he represents a point of reference in society, with the direct and immediate part of that now raising the money for this film—which we must and can do.
Four key links
1. Mass Online Fundraising
Thousands of people need to be driven to the IndieGoGo fundraising site over the next few days, with a major nodal point in this on Tuesday, December 6. This means that it needs to be posted on websites and blogs, sent out via email, and via Twitter and Facebook. You can use this sample fundraising letter. People broadly should be asked to "favorite" the page by choosing "add to favorites" under the trailer or should be visiting the site regularly for updates.
Key in this will be garnering a couple hundred $10 contributions. These matter because they grow the number of people following the page, people who are watching to see how it turns out and helping themselves to spread the word and asking their friends to donate. Lots of smaller contributions grow the core of people fighting to reach this goal. And it synergizes with people who are able to give larger contributions.
We should be reaching out to people who have big online followings and asking them to contribute and post about this. We have to find the creative ways to put this before thousands of people online.
A key part of building the online base will be phone banking. Invite a bunch of people over to your house or to a Revolution Books after hours, bring snacks and call all the people that have been met over the last six months. Use the sample script here. When you call people, have them watch the trailer and then call them right back. Learn their thoughts, talk with them about what this is aiming to accomplish and what they can give. This is also a good way for people without Internet to contribute as they can contribute right over the phone and it's a way to reconnect with all the people we've met over the last many months, learn how their thinking is changing and how they want to contribute.
There will be daily updates on the IndieGoGo page with specific goals, mini-campaigns, and new comments from people about why they're giving, and the key thing to be doing that day, so keep checking.
2. Social Fundraising Events Weekend, December 10-11
There should be lots of people who are just connecting with this movement or have been with it for some time who'd want to invite people to a gathering to raise funds for this film. It can be five people or 25 people… in a housing project or fancy loft. This will be a time where wherever you are, and however many people you're able to bring together, you will be part of having a major collective impact. Call your friends, and family, reconnect with people you haven't talked to in a while, connect in person with people you only connect with online. Invite them over, order pizza, have a potluck or cook a fine meal. However you want to do it... get people together in a movement of house parties to raise whatever else is needed to reach the $23,000 goal.
There could also be all kinds of different events to meet that goal including car washes, bake sales, yard sales, and small-scale cultural benefits.
This is part of reaching out even more broadly; getting a chance to talk to lots of people about this film, what difference it can make and the whole campaign it's a part of to project BA Everywhere. Just sending out the invitations—even if people can't attend—will build awareness, and lead to donations. And it's an important part of building community, bringing people together in a too often atomized world.
3. Larger/Matching/Challenge Donations
There are lots of people we should be approaching for more serious sit-down meetings who can give larger contributions. We may be just starting a relationship with a more propertied person who would consider giving more but might start with a $100 contribution. This is significant, and for online fundraising will be particularly important if people want to put out a call for their contribution to be matched. [RIGHT NOW, donors are willing to match whatever is contributed up to $1,500, so whatever you give before Saturday, December 3 at midnight will be worth twice as much.] (See ANNOUNCING MATCHING DONOR DRIVE.)
Also, there may be a potentially higher donor who would like to have a house party around the film, but would like more time to plan it. You can ask someone if they would pledge to raise a certain amount at a party to happen later, give it on a credit card and then have the party in mid-December or when it suits their schedule.
If you know of donors who are considering giving $250 or more, please contact email@example.com immediately, so that we can coordinate their gift with a plan to build momentum and bring in more donations.
4. Creative Outings
Look in the local calendar listings and find out what cultural events are happening in your area, or what big gatherings. In one city, over a span of a few days, there is a big museum party and an experimental film festival. Get a few smart phones and laptops, load up the film trailer, make a big sign with something like: "ASK ME ABOUT RADICALLY CHANGING THE CULTURE IN THE NEXT TEN DAYS. indiegogo.com/basicsevent"
Get a few people, have someone reading Avakian's imagine quote on bringing into being a different culture, walk around with the laptop and smart phones and get small groups huddled around watching the trailer. People can give online on the spot, they can do live tweeting about the online fundraising campaign, you can get their email and phone number and send them an on-the-spot email and text so they can give and forward it to their friends.
Similarly, you can go around to professors and hang around the student lounges and take a similar approach.
We have an important goal and a way to reach it, let's raise these funds, reach waves of new people, learn a lot and have a big impact as we go.
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