Dave Underhill announced that we are celebrating our 40th anniversary for Christmas tree sales. Last year Rotary raised over $30K from the Christmas tree sales. This year we will be able to take credit cards and to that end, we will have special training for the cashiers. There will be new hours and we will be selling later into the season. All Rotarians are expected to sign up in October. 30% of all Christmas trees sold in New England are sold in the last week prior to Christmas. Additionally, Mark Sullivan is leading an initiative to sell wreaths to corporate clients. A meeting after Rotary included about 10 other Rotarians interested in supporting this venture.

Ted Alex talked about the Jeremy Alex fund and how all kids are at risk. One way to keep kids on a good track is to keep them focused on developing life skills. Through the Jeremy Alex Fund, which has given out over 1,300 chess sets, kids have been helped to develop those decision making skills. The Jeremy Alex Fund Music  Scholarship was awarded to a PHS student, Ivy Telles,  who shares similar likes to Jeremy. Ivy also likes snowboarding, playing chess, listening to and playing music as well as being in the environment. Ivy plays a saxophone and will be using her scholarship at PMAC this season.

Peter announced again that he cycled cross country, 3,600 miles, and asked for donations of $.01 per mile = $36. Peter’s not sure about the cause yet, but we are sure it will be a good one.

On October 27th there will be a meeting on how clubs can raise money for specific causes.

Diane Foley announced our newest Paul Harris Fellow: Ben Anderson. Most of us know Ben Anderson from Prescott Parks Art Festival. Ben has also received the Governor’s Distinguished Arts Leadership Award for exceptional quality of the programs that he has directed, the remarkable success in growing audiences for the arts, his contributions to the creative economy in NH and his reputation as a talented and visionary Leader. Ben is an experienced administrator known for thinking “outside the box”. With the three years that Ben has been involved with the Prescott Parks Arts Festival, he has transformed it into a sustainable operation, increasing operating revenues by 70%, increasing business investment in the festival by 200% and membership by more then 70%.

John Bohenko introduced this week’s speaker, Randy Cohen, who is the VP, American’s for the Arts.

Randy lives in Washington DC and started in this field in 1991. Randy told us the story about date-night with his wife. It started with deciding what to do. They went onto the computer to see what their options would be. They planned to see a show, but knew they would also want to go out to dinner and probably drinks afterwards. Randy discussed how many businesses were touched by this simple desire for a date: from e-commerce, tolls, dinner, drinks, tickets to the show, the program with all the sponsors. The trickle effect:  local produce & supplies, meats and entrepreneurial waiter, the theatre garage, (municipality), ticket maker and ticket takers. The event related expenses like babysitters. Then the curtain goes up and the jobs associated with the production come into play: the director, curator, actors, scene designer  … all measurable economies that go into making the Arts an experience.  The Arts is a business that generated over $26m on the Seacoast alone last year.

Of the $41.4m spent last year, $11m were arts expenses themselves like the 1,270 full time jobs in this sector that won’t be shipped overseas. $4.9m went to local and state gov’t. The average attendee pays $29.08 excluding the cost of the actual event. We want the performers at the theaters, not electric representations.

When surveyed, there were 152, 000 people polled by zip code.  Locals spent $19.37 whereas non-locals spent $43.25 per person. 39% said they would travel outside the county/region to see the same venue. There are fundamental values of a healthy community. Even in a down economy, the Arts did well.

No winner of the jackpot…again!