CULTURE to go through the lawyers in Boston who actually oversee the entire estate. And they were aghast — is the exact word he used — at having anything high-toned here in Las Vegas. And we were aghast that they would think such a stupid thing. And it was very sad because it fell through — they weren’t going to give their permission for us to do the kinds of things we were going to do. We had a wonderful plan. We were going to fill a hole in the calendar when we have low occupancy here — we were really gonna go national with this. You know who owns 800 boxes of Hunter S. Thompson’s work? Johnny Depp. And we were hopeful that Johnny Depp would get involved. So we had really big plans, and we couldn’t get to second base. And for very bad reasons. How could anyone — the most famous and important book he wrote was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. How could Las Vegas not be
the obvious place to do it? It just made no sense whatsoever. What are some of the other challenges of running a literary organization like this? We’re very grateful that the university provides four salaries, and the facilities — that’s a great amount of gift. But: They’ve left it to the director to raise all the rest of the money — for the fellows, the Ph.D. students, the programs, everything else. That’s why we have to have a proven fundraiser. What’s interesting is that people claim they’ve raised X or Y, but it’s not always accurate. So we’ve been trying to find a person who has both an actual track record of fundraising and the capacity to do it here, in Las Vegas. The pool of donors here for literary adventures is narrow — it’s narrow and deep. A Diana Bennett, the Rogerses, the Saltmans, Tom and Mary Gallagher. But you can practically name them — the big-time
donors — on the fingers of less than two hands. We raise smaller money from lots of wonderful people, but the big dollars have to come from a fairly small number of people. There just aren’t that many folks attached to literary endeavors in the community. (Brightening) That’s part of what we’re trying to change! Increase that number! In judging the success of BMI, should the community look for signs of a local impact? Because in your mission statement there’s very much an aspiration to have a global influence … You’re very right to bring those two things up. I think our donor pool is going to remain largely local, because it’s the community folks who get to come to these events for free. We don’t see much opportunity among potential international donors, even though what we want to bring to the community has got an international scope. There’s a kind of dilemma there in that regard.
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