Rotary Music Extravaganza has long, successful history

The Rotary Music Extravaganza celebrated its 17th anniversary on Saturday, 1 December.  

Once again it was a well-attended concert at The Brick House featuring the talents of local bands that were appreciated by young and old. This annual family-friendly concert raises money for a number of Rotary Central projects and since its inception has never lost money, thanks to the savvy business sense of organisers and ticket sellers. 

Many fundraisers such as this one are described as having “humble beginnings,” yet founder Ravi Kapoor was thinking big right from the start when he first decided to launch the music extravaganza. “I was put in charge of fundraising the very first year,” he recalls, “and back then the biggest prize around was for the Benzarama. 

“The Internet was in its infancy, and so I did all my research through the television. I saw an ad for a Lexus and I thought ‘that looks like a nice car,’ so I called directory enquiries in Miami and asked for the numbers for all the dealerships in the area.” 

Mr. Kapoor was given three numbers, and he sent faxes to all three of them, requesting information about their cars and stating that his Rotary club in the Cayman Islands was looking to buy one as a prize for a fundraiser. One dealer took two months to reply; the second took three weeks; and the third replied within 45 minutes. He chose the third. 

In the weeks following that choice, Mr. Kapoor managed to get the dealer to agree to a price 3 1/2 per cent above cost, a dark rather than white interior, 12 CD changer, car phone and a heavy duty car cover. The Lexus was shipped to Grand Cayman and the tickets went on sale for $100 each. Some members of Rotary were concerned about the plan.  

“There were some who worried that we were going to lose money,” Mr. Kapoor said. “But I felt confident about the idea, and three weeks before the event we had already broken even.” 

The key to the first concert’s success, a method still used to this day, was to give the ticket sellers an incentive. All of them received a commission on every book of tickets they sold and there was also a seller’s prize up for grabs.  

“It was such a popular idea that we had sellers all over the island,” Mr. Kapoor. “And we have sellers now that have been doing it for us for every year since the very beginning.” 

This year, the seller of the winning ticket won $4,000, and there were also 80 extra prizes drawn separately for the ticket sellers, including airline tickets and multiple gift certificates. 

After the first year of the extravaganza, the ticket price dropped to $25, but the first prize was $100,000. In a lucky twist that winner was sold the ticket by his wife, so she got the seller prize as well. Since then, the first prize has been set at $40,000 with a second prize of $4,000 and six third prizes of $1,000 each. Thousands of tickets are sold each year, and although those who purchase do not have to be present to win, there is always a great turnout at the concert thanks to the excellent variety of music provided by local musicians. 

Many generously donate their time to this yearly event, or provide their services at drastically reduced rates. Bob Moseley of “Gone Country” fame supplies the sound system and equipment, the concert venues make a donation, radio stations offer discounted radio advertising and other companies provide sponsorship.  

All of this assistance enables Rotary Central to make the most of the concert, and raise the largest amount of funds possible, which in turn are used to fun ongoing programmes and projects that they support or run throughout the year. 

Rotary Central is the sole shareholder and major sponsor of Junior Achievement. It also provides and maintains all the bus shelters, supports the Women’s Crisis Centre and assists the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. 

It organises programmes in schools, such as “Baby Think It Over” to help prevent teen pregnancies, as well as enhancing school facilities. The completion of the Lighthouse School playground is a recent example. Rotary Central also runs the annual Science Fair, a great success since it began. 

The Rotary Music Extravaganza has funded many great projects over the years, and has provided a wonderful evening of entertainment for those who attend. Holders of winning tickets are particularly happy to be a part of the festivities, but anyone who hands over that $25 each year should know that those funds go a long way to supporting the local community. 

The key to the first concert’s success, a method still used to this day, was to give the ticket sellers an incentive.