The Chicago chapter has organized quite a few fund raising events but we recently held two in one weekend, Feb 2 to 4. In all, we raised $1000.
The first was a punk show on Friday night, Feb 2 at the Liars Club, a small well-known Chicago club. This all started when a supporter and her partner came to the November potluck. It turns out he is in a punk band and, when he heard our fund raising pitch at the potluck, he asked if RF would be interested in a fund raising event with a lineup of punk bands. Of course! He, his partner, and one RF Chicago organizer took responsibility and made it happen. Voice of Addiction and Wrecking Ball Productions signed on early and became the lead band, and others quickly came on board until we had five signed up. All the bands waived their pay so the entire door went to Refuse Fascism. Voice of Addition developed a great meme and sponsored ads on Facebook. (They are on a West Coast tour later this spring, check it out if they’re coming to your town.)
All in all, the message that there IS a movement to drive out these fascists got out in new circles on social media, and the crowd was almost all people who were new to RF. The bands were all on point at the event, and audience reception was really good. The Trump pinata was a big hit, with people paying extra to take a swing at Trump in effigy. We raised $563 and a good amount of people walked over to the RF table to talk. It was great reaching a different audience. One musician told us he wants to be apart of the next RF punk benefit. The RF organizer who led the organizing spoke to all of the bands that performed, and as he thanked them, they all thanked Refuse Fascism in return for what we’re doing. The two musicians who initiated the whole event did wonderful job in getting together the bands and promoting it.
The Refuse Fascism organizer also contacted campus radio stations to get the event plugged and was interviewed on WZRD, the station at Northeastern Illinois University, a very multinational campus in Chicago. He reported that the DJ was also super supportive of RF and wants us to to come on his show for any future fundraisers and protests. It was a great evening and everyone had a lot of fun.
The second event was a group outing to see a matinee performance of “We the People – an AntiTrump Musical” on Sunday, Feb. 4.
A chapter organizer saw an advertisement for the play before it opened and she and her husband screened the play before we decided to make it an outing for RF friends and supporters. As she put it, it wasn’t as radical as Refuse Fascism, but the play did a good job of presenting the horror of election night and some of the terror this regime instills in targeted communities. So she contacted the producer, who knew of Degenerate Artists Against Fascism. HE agreed to give Refuse Fascism half-price tickets using the code “anti-fascist” when purchasing them. We promoted the group outing via emails and Facebook but let the theater company handle sales. The event was well attended, with probably around 30 to 35 people attending as part of RF. (It’s a small independent theater and this was the production company’s first play.) A number of people said that they enjoyed the show – particularly 2 scenes: the Immigrant scene and the final “We the People must make the change” song. The play explained that it is up to “we the people to stop this administration,” and although it didn’t say how that would happen, it seemed to suggest by voting in 2020.
Our group was introduced before the play by the producer, Leo Schwartz, and one of the RF people in the audience broke out in an a chant at the end of the play. Nice touch!
We had an informal discussion over pizza in the lobby afterward that included people who are not part of RF. We made clear that RF is about taking on this regime by protesting regularly and that waiting for the elections was too dangerous. An enormous amount of damage has already taken place and it will only get worse by 2018 and certainly by 2020. We distributed the new “Not This Time” statement and discussed some of our upcoming events, particularly the anti-deportation protest at the Gary airport on February 23rd.
We passed out other RF literature and sold some swag bags and other miscellaneous RF items. We suggested that people contribute the difference between the normal ticket price and our discounted price. Additionally, we suggested a donation for the pizza we brought in for the discussion. In total we collected $433 as well as a number of contacts for our email list.
I think the key to the success of both events was relying on people beyond our chapter or even our e-list. A few chapter organizers were critical but mainly we kept it all very simple and succeeded in spreading the name and message of Refuse Fascism while raising much needed funds.