Spontaneous Poetics – (Emergency Fund Raising)

Naropa‘s financing in its early days, was precarious, to say the least. We’ve already published an earnest (and also entertaining) fund-raiser/funding appeal – here. Allen breaks off his August 6, 1976 Spontaneous Poetics class with an even more urgent emergency call

AG: And there’s something I wanted to say before we get to any more lifted hands, because we had a big teachers’ meeting yesterday, about money, to consider money – because this whole scene is going to fold, unless we do make enough money to keep it going, and what, apparently, is required, by next Thursday, is twenty-three thousand dollars… by Thursday-night… which breaks down in the school to seventy dollars a student, which.. in other words, the teachers decided to go out into all of their classes and ask the students to see if they can magically invent seventy dollars by Thursday, that is, one way or another, like from your parents, or going out cutting grass, or get it out of the bank, or borrow it from your neighbor. What that will do is actually get the school through to the end of the term (It’s not like the school will be closed, because it’d be more expensive to close and then have to pay every student their money back before the end, so it’ll drag on to conclusion, but unless, by the end of the term, actually, forty-six thousand dollars.. and, unless, next Thursday, twenty-three thousand dollars, there will be just a total financial disaster – The bank will be fore-closing on loans). Now, the faculty (debated yesterday), what can we do?, like, couldn’t we have some sort of… the urgency of it is, the actual extreme nature of the problem.. it’s taken for granted that somehow or other we’ll get through – but we won’t! The whole point is that it’s a community school, a community enterprise. Eighty-five percent supported by the faculty and students, financially. It’s not supported by the government or by foundation loans, as most schools are. Most schools are supported by government or annuities from trustees or foundations. This is one of the rare schools that is actually self-supporting. So it’s, in that sense, a vital community. In other words, everybody’s got to.. it’s our own making. It isn’t made from the outside. There’s no deus ex machina, it’s our own situation. That’s why they get so heavy about people paying to get into classes. Like, I’m having to work free (and a lot of the other faculty are doing what they’re doing free). So for me, it’s.. I’m having to give money to support this. Like, last term I gave five-hundred dollars – and cut out my salary. So I’m actually doing this for the pleasure of doing it, as (instruction to the) students (that) are here, not being an accredited school, for the pleasure of being here If we can get through this session, paying back bank loans, it means that we’ll be able to continue the school indefinitely. This kind of crisis won’t be perpetual. Once we get through this year, then there will be government grants and foundation grants, and it’ll be a lot easier to get long-range loans, once it (Naropa) has established its third year of going, because there are foundations and government people supporting it. So, in other words, it’s not a continual drain forever, but there is this crisis, over the next couple of weeks, where we’ve got to raise money. So if any of you have the capacity to come up with seventy bucks, or more, or less, any money that you can throw in, would be really useful.
We didn’t know what suggestions to make. My suggestion was to send everybody that wanted to out with a tin cup and go begging, like (in) the movies, which would be sort of interesting, But they didn’t think that was the proper Buddhist style.
If the money isn’t raised by Thursday, there probably will be one day soon (where we’ll have) a large, maybe friday-the-thirteenth, big get-together jamboree upstairs, with the whole school, planning together, trying to figure out what to do. It’d be kind of interesting, You know, poems, music, everybody talking, to sort it out – like, a complete mass meeting (which I think would be a good scene anyway, whether or no there (was) a crisis). Yeah?

and from a talk, a couple of days later:

So, the crisis which we’re in the middle of (which is a minor financial crisis – I think that the amount of money needed is about the equivalent to the salary of one college professor in one university) is a relatively minor matter. And obviously for all of us there is an open future in this situation. And so it’s worth all of our effort now, and time and care and attention and good heart, to get in touch with whoever we do know that has a little money, (and) get the money together. Since the amount is not very great (I think it’s under a hundred dollars each), if we actually do work on it, it probably isn’t going to be too difficult or painful to ask (in fact it might be kind of delightful to get on the phone and get money from) upper-middle-class uncles, doctor-teachers, lawyer-musicians, cousins-who-have-a-friendly-ear-towards-you, or who’ve heard about your meditation, heard about your art, come up out of your own bank accounts – I don’t think it should be too hard and it should be a pleasure to do, because if we’re able to do it, as an American poet-bard, I would say we (will) have succeeded in founding, perhaps, the strongest prophetic art community seen in the Western World since Bohemia was first conceived.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-four minutes in and continuing through to the end – and here, beginning approximately ten-and-a-quarter minutes in, through to the end]

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