New York, NY, 17 November, 2008 – Continuing a tradition begun by the Grateful Dead in the fall of 1983 with the creation this philanthropic arm, the Rex Foundation brings its special mix of fun and fundraising back to New York City by throwing a Black Tie Dye Ball with the band Dark Star Orchestra on Saturday, November 29th at the Nokia Theater.
Yet for the Dead, “marketing is marketing, after all, and there is always something to be learned from the world's best, even if their strategies and styles evolved during the Summer of Love in the streets of San Francisco rather than at meetings on Madison Avenue” according to Glenn Rifkin in his article How to "Truck" the Brand: Lessons from the Grateful Dead (http://www.strategy-business.com/press/16635507/9095).
For the Grateful Dead the music came before the money (and because of this the money usually followed), and the Rex Foundation – originally funded by direct contributions from the Dead – has relied on fundraising events organized around this same principle. Says Foundation Executive Director Sandy Sohcot, “ benefit events are a great way to connect the musical community to grassroots philanthropy, furthering a tradition that began at the first Grateful Dead Rex benefit in the spring of 1984.”
While many charities are facing concerns about their ability to raise funds in an economy in recession, the Rex Foundation seems to have found a winning combination. Its Rex Musical Caravan links up with a band for part of their tour, and typically a dollar per ticket goes to Rex. This month’s Caravan with Dark Star Orchestra culminates in the aptly named Black Tie Dye Ball, where patrons willing to pay a premium join in a pre-event reception and a chance to hang out with favorite artists.
According to Carolyn Garcia, Rex Foundation board member and wife of the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, “There is a very special community spirit that happens at these Rex events, where everyone – the musicians, fans, venue operators, promoters – enjoy connecting around music, having fun together while helping support worthwhile grassroots non-profits.”
The Rex Foundation has distributed $8.4 million in grants to over 1,000 programs across the U.S. and internationally since forming in 1983. It was the culture of the 1960s that set the context for the establishment of the Foundation. In the post Grateful Dead era, the principles that propelled the Grateful Dead’s own success – music and fan experience first - have reinvigorated Rex in the years since the Grateful Dead stopped touring. Even in tough economic times it seems these music lovers are still willing to, as the Grateful Dead lyric goes, “put your gold money where your love is baby.”