Well, 2011 is almost history — and we’re in a reflective mood. It’s a perfect time to look back and (what else?) make a list of highlights. Here are twelve reasons we had a great year.
1. Binford and Lotus Days at the Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar
It was our first proclamation: Mayor Mark Kruzan acknowledged a decade of partnership between Lotus and the Binford Elementary School, which has hosted our annual Lotus Blossoms Bazaar since 2002. In the Mayor’s words, “Binford and Lotus have worked together to help young people in Monroe County learn more about the amazing varied cultures of the world, paving the way for a lifetime of learning and appreciation of other peoples and their customs.”
- Here’s all you need to know about Lotus Blossoms – in less than 11 minutes.
- For more Blossoms goodness, see graduate assistant Kathryn Rudolph’s Bazaar gallery, and a kids-eye-view of the Lotus Blossoms Bazaar.
Each year since 2006, we’ve qualified to participate in this endowment-building project sponsored by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. So far, we’ve added $65,000+ to the Lotus-Fitzgerald Endowment Fund via this initiative. It’s a challenge for smaller nonprofits to do the all-important work of saving for the future – but Matchstick makes it possible by providing a matching-funds program for donors. You give, Matchstick gives, and Lotus’s future looks brighter ever year. Give now to the Lotus-Fitzgerald Endowment — just write “Endowment” in the “Designate my donation” box.
This year’s Lotus World Music and Arts Festival opened with a sold-out concert by the legendary Mavis Staples – a true headliner, at a festival that rarely has one. It was a show we’ll always remember.
4. Times are tough, but our sponsors came through.
We thank this year’s sponsors and individual donors for sustaining us:
- Lotus Blossoms presenting sponsor the Raymond Foundation, Adopt-a-School sponsors, and everyone else who supported our educational outreach programming
- The folks who came to Edible Lotus, our annual fundraiser
- Our festival presenting sponsors – Bloomingfoods, Indiana University–Bloomington, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA grant is the result of a group application made with a consortium of Midwest festivals working together to bring international performing artists to the U.S.
- Our Friends of Lotus donors – individuals who support our mission with annual gifts. You can give here and now, by the way — the tax-deductible donations of Friends of Lotus support our operations and programming throughout the year.
5. The Edible Lotus Night Bazaar
We changed up our annual fundraiser, from a sit-down affair to tapas, and a silent auction that ran the gamut from repurposed vintage Lotus T’s made into shoulder bags, to a Qing dynasty head of a Buddha.
6. It was a good year for Lotus visual arts.
We started with a string of workshops with community groups, making a couple hundred banners that became the walls of a Community Labyrinth in the Festival’s Arts Village. This year also marked the return of the gallery exhibition to festival visual arts: “Woven Treasures,” works from the collection of George Malacinski and Kirstine Lindemann.
The creative team at the Bloomington tech firm WhimMill came up with a spiffy new app for fans who like their Lotus on the go. It worked for us, and it worked for them: they’re marketing the app – Rendezville – worldwide.
8. Our incredible volunteers.
From helping kids learn about world cultures at the Lotus Blossoms Bazaar, to setting tables at Edible Lotus, to taking down festival tents at 1 a.m., our Lotus volunteers are the best in the land. And that includes our dedicated board of directors, and the committee members who work behind the scenes to plan events. You rock. Every one of you. Full stop.
- Look back at the year in Lotus volunteering
- Watch graduate intern Alejandro Lance’s interviews with Festival volunteers
9. The Three Belles
Thanks to the IU Auditorium and the Theatre and Drama Department, plein aire performance art and acrobatics were part of this year’s festival scene. The Belles are a creation of Australia’s Strange Fruit, and they defied icky weather to bring new experience to this year’s Lotus.
10. Lotus Blossoms for 9,000 kids
Paul Taylor is officially in the Lotus Blossoms pantheon: thanks to him a few thousand kids in Bloomington know something about Australian Aboriginal dreamtime traditions. And thanks to Dennis Stroughmatt, all of us (Lotus staff included) discovered that, yes, there is a history of Creole culture in the Midwest. Dennis speaks articulately about the importance of Lotus Blossoms — and cultural exploration for Indiana students — in our Lotus Blossoms video.
11. Lotus in the Park. Even in the rain.
What to do, when you have to prepare a rained-on park for a couple of thousand Lotus fans? Two words: hay bales. Sure, it’s nice to have a gorgeous late-summer day for Lotus in the Park on festival weekend – but a little rain didn’t spoil a great day of music, dancing, and good Lotus vibes. Revisit Lotus in the Park with graduate intern Alejandra Lance’s look back at our day in the park.
12. The Festival — because it always surprises us.
We’re always excited about the roster and the schedule, and we have good guesses about which artists or groups will go over big. Bomba Estéreo? Check. Creole Choir of Cuba? Check. But who knew that Movits would blow the roof off two nights in a row? And then the Nordic string ensemble Frigg decided to spend some time with students in the IU String Academy – and invited them on stage during a performance. And lest we forget: Mavis Staples. And Three Belles in the rain. And Martha Sechler’s fine festival art. We could go on. And on.