If you throw a fund-raiser for First Friday, will they come?

Tonight is the fifth anniversary fund-raiser for Whirlygig, Inc., otherwise known as the non-profit organization that runs First Friday, everyone’s favorite monthly arts festival (sorry, Henderson). It’s being held at the rooftop penthouse atop SoHo Lofts (900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.) from 7 – 11 p.m.

I guess I’m writing about this now because I received ANOTHER reminder e-mail this morning from Amy Schmidt of VURB magazine. The e-mail noted that tickets at the door tonight would be only $50. Originally, advance tickets were $50, jumping to $75 at the door.

Were I given to speculation–oh, who are we kidding, I always speculate–I might venture a guess that ticket sales for the event were sluggish, so the First Friday folk dropped the door price in a last-ditch attempt to raise some more funds and get a few more people through the door. Kind of like when the House of Blues offers its tickets “2-for-1” on Tuesdays in a thinly-veiled effort to pump up poorly-selling concerts.

I am going to the fund-raiser, of course. I paid $50 for my ticket. And I guess we’ll see tonight how many other people did as well (not counting, I’m sure, the number of folks who are intimately involved with the production of the event, which is probably half of the arts-supporting community who would have been primary ticket buyers in the first place). But here’s the worry: This is Las Vegas. The large numbers of people who appear in the Arts District once a month for First Friday do so because it’s free. And many of them are kids who couldn’t attend the fund-raiser even if they wanted to. So when you remove the moochers and the emo kids, you’re left with the core people who always support the arts scene–people like me, the Vurb crew, gallery owners, artists and a small base of patrons.

In New York or maybe L.A., finding people willing to spend $50 or $75 to support an organization such as Whirlygig would probably be easy as pie. But here in Vegas, everyone else is spending their cash on Halloween parties, Vegoose, probably anything but a fund-raiser, even one as swanky as the First Friday shindig.

My hope: That I’m wrong, and that the turnout is wonderful, and that a bunch of money is raised to help keep FF going and make it a dozen times better. I watched two years ago as people bid ridiculous amounts of money on bachelorettes at another fund-raiser for FF, and event with a $25 cover–and Whirlygig raised $25,000 that night (on paper … not sure how much they actually recovered from those drunken sods bidding on Mehrey Ellis). So hope exists. I guess we’ll find out in about 9 hours.

Oh, and in case anyone needs more incentive than just being a good-hearted patron of the arts to attend, here are a few of the features of tonight’s event, courtesy of Vurb’s e-mail blasts:

Free Booze (beer from Dino’s, wine from Bomas, specialty cocktails from Downtown Cocktail Room)

Great Entertainment (live music, live painting, live theatre)

Amazing raffle prizes (gift certificates to Epic Shoos, LV Paper Doll, The Funk House;

tickets to Le Reve, Spamalot, Blue Man; bar tabs at Beauty Bar, The Griffin and Downtown Cocktail Room; and the GRAND PRIZE, a two-night stay at the MONTAGE RESORT in LAGUNA BEACH and many more)

Silent Art Auction (works by Michael Wardle, Jerry Misko, Curtis Fairman, Steven Spann, Leslie Rowland, Caesar Garcia, Brian and Jennifer Henry, Marty Walsh, Casey Weldon and many more)

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