Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Inaugural First Night bash posts a profit

Citizen Staff Writer



The inaugural downtown First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve surprised organizers by turning a tiny profit.

The Downtown Tucson Partnership ended up $788.28 ahead for the $72,000 event, which attracted about 4,000 people to nearly 40 performances at seven downtown venues, Chief Executive Glenn Lyons said.

“Hell, yes,” Lyons said about his surprise that First Night ended in the black. “I thought we had a $5,000 to $8,000 loss.”

Savings in some production costs, and sales of many more admission buttons to adults than to children, allowed the partnership to meet all costs, Lyons said.

About 75 percent of buttons sold were for adults at $12 a piece with the remaining $6 buttons for children ages five to 12. Button sales generated $21,487, Lyons said.

That revenue was supplemented with $10,000 from the partnership; $15,000 from Cox Communications, $10,000 from the Downtown Tucson Development Co.; $5,000 each from Councilwoman Nina Trasoff’s office, Mayor Bob Walkup’s office and the Tucson Pima Arts Council; and $1,000 from Councilwoman Regina Romero’s office.

Total revenue was $72,486.90 and total paid expenses came to $71,698.62 with another $115,000 in in-kind donated services, nearly all revolving around free advertising, according to the partnership’s First Night 2009 Summary Report.

The largest single expense was $12,950 for the fireworks finale. Performers were paid $9,550 at the Leo Rich Theatre, $5,100 at the Scottish Rite Cathedral and $2,900 at La Placita Village.

The partnership gave $9,000 to Beowulf Alley Theatre and $4,052 to the Tucson Children’s Museum to cover expenses, including paying performers.

Tucson’s initial First Night tapped into a national concept. Similar celebrations are held in more than 100 cities. The partnership organized First Night in about two months.

Preparation for the next First Night will start in three or four weeks with a sponsor appreciation event.

Lyons anticipates bringing in production partners for the next First Night and possibly forming a committee to work with partnership staff. Other cities have a year-round, full-time First Night staff.

One suggestion for improvement repeated in the summary report for nearly each venue was the need for more food, Lyons said.

Inaugural First Night on New Year’s Eve turns tiny profit

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