Saturday, March 31, 2007

Free Lunch?

There's no such thing as a free lunch, they say. Unless you are a locally elected official in France, it seems.

Perhaps it is the threat of not dishing out subventions that gets them invited everywhere for nothing. What we have found during our preparations for the Promo'Arts charitable evening is that expecting them to pay is greeted with shock. Ca ne se fait pas, chère amie!

Logically, however, someone has to open their cheque book at a charity event. It is, afterall, the aim of a charity event to earn money for charity (in this case, La Ligue Contre le Cancer). We are not putting on an evening's entertainment out of the goodness of our hearts. I'm not sure this concept has quite sunk in.

At previous events, not organised by us, guests have considered the evening as a soirée mondaine, have stuffed themselves silly on the sumptuous buffet, drunk themselves under the table on the wine, and contributed not one cent to the charity in whose name the event was organised. Call us stuffy old FrAnglo-Saxon pedants if you will, but that is not what charity is all about.

Our art auction involves about 18 paintings. That means a maximum of 18 people can buy one. They may only pay peanuts if no one else is bidding on that particular painting, which means the whole evening's financial success rests on the whim of a small group of potential bidders. Everyone else would be busily stuffing themselves, getting drunk and then going home, their wallets intact.

But, we have a cunning plan...

Guests will have to buy their glass if they want a drink. To obtain a glass they will have to cough up a minimum of ten euros; more if they like, or if they are persuaded that being generous would be a really good idea... Then they can drink as much as they like and eat.

This idea is causing much mirth and evil chuckling amongst the sponsors (themselves exceptionally generous people), and much shock and disbelief amongst the representatives of locally elected officials. If they want to drink, they will have to pay. I'm not sure it's ever been done before here. We aim to shock and to get people thinking and acting. Word is spreading in the town that we are not sucking up to politicians, not asking them for money, and expecting everyone to participate at what is certainly going to be one hell of an evening.

It's causing such a stir but who was it who said that there's no such thing as bad publicity? Where we had been ignored before, we are now being solicited for invitations. Dontcha just love politics?


  1. this goes back to our discussion, Sarah...don't listen to them when it's all surprise and shock doing such a thing. They are quite used to it if they go on public wine tastings in the area. I was at one in Narbonne last year in the centre of town and you had to 'buy' your glass - once bought you could drink youself stupid if you so wanted!

    However if you invite a maire or two or some other VIP it would be better to offer them their glass! The perks of being a maire!

  2. No way, Louise, it is exactly hordes of high placed politicians trying to get there willy nilly, to be seen, to strut, and make others think that THEY got this whole thing way! Anyone coming to that place will give even a little token for charity - and not try and get there to stuff themsleves, drink and be noticed. To much hard wrok to get all the wonderful things we have been offered to waste it on "coqs"!

    If they don't wish to give, we don't wish to receive them. I've spent 8 hours a day contacting the generous donateurs, and no way will that time and effort be used for anything else but charity nor their precious and top notch gifts.

    As far as perks are concerned, we don't need them. We need money for cancer!

    The genrous ones in actual fact, although surprised thin the "pay your glass" gimmit is a hoot.....they are somewhat amused and pleased that anyone dared!!!!

  3. I agree with you entirely, ng - I'm just looking at it from the 'diplomatic' angle!

    They are so used to freeloading, they probably won't even have €10 in their pocket!

  4. When it's a commercial occasion, it's different. Those vignerons have to make an honest euro so people will happily pay for a glass.

    With charity it's different. People seem to think the charity is aimed at them to freeload off rather than them giving to charity. It's very odd.

    And the last people we want are freeloading maires! Why should they not give to cancer research? You can bet your bottom euro that someone in their family has contracted or is likely to contract cancer at some time.

    Cancer research can't work without money. We want money, not freeloaders, whoever they might be!

  5. Perhaps you could put a reserve price on the paintings ensuring they don't go for peanuts.
    I see your point and Louise's too but do you need to ask the local officials?
    Good luck.

  6. Angela, this is France; every second person is a local official of some sort... (jk)

    We want bums on seats, as it were, so asking as many people as possible inevitably includes local gov. It gets us talked about, which brings in more bums.

  7. In actual fact, presently THEY are asking to to asked - instead of us asking them....and I'm walking backward to Xmas saying not axactly no, but only yes if they comme with money! For the time being it's a status quo, but I do think we will perhaps get away with no local authorities unless they get their check books out.....

    As far as prices in enchéres are concerned, the reeson I asked a really super pro to do the sale is the Commisaire Prisieur are very good at putting the first bid at the right price, usually slightly under, and never let things go for peanuts, they take things out of the sale if the price is not right, and shame the parterre by telling them so.

    I really don't think we should have that kind of trouble this time becoz the people know they are buying for charity and getting it off their impots and at the soirée for that reason...and they are also in view and hearing of everybody important around, so being mean won't be good for their pr!!

    We have been so talked about for only letting people in to "give" - I'm supposing that it will work! (Always was a bit "father Xmas" spirit in me!) And of course it's new. They have people saying "non"....instead of tearing after them to get them there!!!

    If they don't give, they are of no use there. This is not a political publicité rout!!!

    Having explained that one Maire he still asked me for 30 invitations yesterday, so he knows he and his will have to come forth with a don to get thru' the door and the people he invites.

    He did not hiccup and even gave two cases of wine from his pocket. Are things changing? He also said he would help with opur next evening for poorly kiddies by finding the right "salle" for

    Another important political set up asked me for 90 invitations, so I just explained politely that no -sous - no - we will wait and see if they still want invitaions! If they don't, well what did we loose? Political appui? Were are not looking for that and have never ever even asked for a subvention. All our donateurs are private people and business folk.

    It takes decenies to get a honest and clean reputation - and a few minutes to shoot it. So - no political show offs to make themselves look good- just generous people who know that cancer goes on - more and more - but that research is short of money. It's concerns all of us sooner or later - even so called VIP's


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