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The first item on One in Ten’s to-do list in planning the city’s 20th annual gay and lesbian film festival, Reel Affirmations, this October is a hefty one: getting rid of an estimated $40,000 debt.
”The money we need even before we can talk about the next festival is a big chunk of change,” Robert Safro, vice president of One in Ten’s board of directors, told the crowd of about 45 people gathered at HRC’s Equality Center, on Thursday, March 18, for a meeting to discuss One in Ten’s future.
”We’re not here to scare people, but we want to give you the reality of the situation.”
According to Safro, the debt is a result of money owed to caterers, the printer of last year’s program guide, the graphic designer of the program guide, and the AFI Theater in Silver Spring.
With only ”seven to eight thousand dollars” in the bank, and seven people serving on the board of directors, five were present for Thursday’s meeting, as One in Ten asked community members for donations and to consider volunteering their time.
Speaking to Metro Weekly on Monday, March 22, Safro said One in Ten has been approved for $75,000 grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which it applied for before 2009’s film festival.
”The reason we didn’t bring that up at the meeting was not to hide anything,” he says, ”but rather, it was very complicated to get the grant, and it’s very restricted as to what we can use the grant for. It’s very handcuffed.”
Safro says the money, of which One in Ten is expecting to receive half in April, cannot be used to pay employees or bills, but can be used for ”future endeavors” including consultants.
”That’s kind of why we didn’t bring it up. Because if we had said we’re getting a $75,000 grant, everyone would have said, ‘Oh you’re out of the hole.”’
That night, audience members contributed a total of $6,000 to start to help One in Ten get out of the hole. They also offered some feedback on what needs to happen.
Local activist Alison Gardner offered her thoughts.
”I think the festival itself has to be remade, in how the films are chosen and how volunteer hours are wasted,” she said.
”I think that your volunteers, your staff and board have one task, and that’s to put Reel Affirmations on everyone’s agenda, all year round, [and] have other arts events promote the film festival.”
Lisa King, president of the board of directors, says the organization is doing just that. One in Ten has already scheduled two ”Diva’s Outdoors” lawn movie events at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens in June. One in Ten is also planning ”Gay 101,” a film series event at the Atlas Performing Arts Center this July.
Other collaborations include a reoccurring movie night at Nellie’s Sports Bar, King said, currently being planned.
One in Ten’s Sarah Kellogg encouraged attendees by reminding them of the organization’s ability to overcome financial hardships in the 90s.
”We’ve come out of the ashes before,” she said. ”It’s kind of like a Phoenix. You can’t kill the festival. You can’t kill One in Ten, because it lives on with people.”
To make a donation, or volunteer, or for more information about One in Ten, visit oneinten.org.