Without a doubt, 2014 has been an amazing journey for Folsom Street East. The board began the year with a daunting goal ahead of us: reinstating our signature event and with that reestablishing nearly two decades of tradition and hard-won credibility with our community. Dave and Gary in particular threw themselves headlong into the work of repairing and growing relationships with city agencies and the police; neighborhood residents, businesses, and organizations; sponsors, vendors, and media; and certainly not least, our entertainers, volunteers, and attendees. Our attendance and revenue exceeded all expectations, allowing us to donate over $13,000 to our beneficiaries, and our hard work this year will bolster our ability to negotiate permitting with the community board and the city in 2015. Beyond all that, though: we did what some folks had insisted was impossible: we brought kink back to the streets of New York where it belongs, and where it will stay.
In parallel with bringing back the street festival, we began to bring Folsom Street East into organizational maturity as a nonprofit. Rising to the level of effort that goal demanded meant a lot of firsts for us, not least among them our first annual report and our first board retreat. Speaking as the guy who suggested we all schlep upstate for a chilly weekend in the country to talk about strategic planning and governance, I was frankly floored by the level of engagement and conversation among my fellow board members. On some level, I always knew why we do what we do; the retreat allowed us to put that into words and tie those words to actions in a way more powerful than I thought possible. We’ll be formalizing the new mission statement drafted at the retreat and sharing it with you all early in 2015, but our inspiration to continue our work has already been renewed.
Based on feedback from 2013’s community survey, we made a huge effort to better inform you about us and about our beneficiaries. This was enabled by the completion of two big behind-the-scenes projects in 2014: the overhaul of our website and the migration to our new web domain. Together, these have ensured that we will be able to easily deliver timely, secure communications in the years to come. In early 2015 we’ll be migrating to a new email marketing platform which will allow us to manage mailings more efficiently and economically.
It’s with regret that we accepted long-time member Ray’s resignation from the board last month; however, we know he’ll continue to be on call for event support and other special projects on an ad hoc basis going forward. On a brighter note, we have four new board members joining us in 2015, effectively doubling the board’s size. Marie, Paul, Robert, and Rudy have already made inestimable contributions to thought leadership and our ability to execute, and we are excited to continue to work with them in the coming year.
We’ve achieved a lot as a board this year, but we couldn’t have done it without you. I was reminded of that early on the morning of the street festival, when I found that at least twenty volunteers had showed up well ahead of me and were standing under the High Line awaiting my sleepy-eyed direction. After months spent planning for every contingency, our plans came through because you did. Even six months later, I still stand in awe of all that we were able to achieve together in those few hours on a summer Sunday — and I don’t just mean pushing porta-potties around. I mean playing a part in something bigger than any one of us — creating a public space where our culture can flourish. For that (and for moving porta-potties, too): thank you, thank you, thank you.
On behalf of the board, allow me to wish you the happiest of holidays, and invite you to mark your calendars — the next street festival is slated for 21 June 2015. Looking forward to seeing you all there, and to sharing some surprises with you along the way!
Matt Johnson, Board Chair, Folsom Street East