Chiang Mai Charity Calendar
(The Inside Story!)
"The Vision" .........our first mock up
After that idea first came, we drew up rules and entry forms, and received confirmation of participation from Prem Tinsulanonda International School whose students were invited to ‘create and donate’ paintings reflecting a theme: "Why Chiang Mai is a Wonderful Place to Live"
Although time was short, students and parents reacted quickly and positively. Entries soon rolled in using the 40 x 60 cms format specified. Meanwhile, City Life Magazine had kindly already offered to do our layouts, graphics etc., free of charge, and Chotana Print Company Ltd., to equally kindly produce the calendar at cost. Khun Junnapong Saranak of TAT Northern Office Region 1 had applauded the concept, and we were now on our way …not too confidently, as we knew little about printing, and this was suddenly our baby. We had no rich sponsors (nor did we want to clutter the calendar with logos and advertisements) and we were going to have to proceed as best we could, with the help of kindred spirits who shared our vision and enthusiasm - then leave the rest to the Powers that Be.
A former travel industry figure and long-time resident wrote the 5 pages of text about Chiang Mai for us, also free of charge. The 93 paintings were collated and numbered with their titles and descriptions. We then realised that we could not effectively exhibit them for judging as they were, so we had to find more funding to put all 93 entries into display frames.
To ensure impartiality, the judges’ voting sheet listed only titles and descriptions against the numbered entries. The artists’ signatures on the paintings were covered up. The judges were asked to award points from 1 to 10 for each entry, 10 being the highest, and the thirteen paintings with the highest aggregate scores were selected for inclusion in the calendar.
Although we were surprised how much time and administration this had already involved, so far, so good. Behind us now were innumerable sleep-disturbed nights, fretting, worrying, and rolling from one side of the bed to the other..... ‘crocodiling’ as we came to call it. And there were plenty more of these beasts to come…
Next came layouts, colour schemes, proof-reading, mock-ups, etc… and this web site. Since we had boldly promised to post all 93 paintings on it without thinking how it would be done, we found ourselves acting as amateur photographers with no proper equipment, lighting or otherwise. Coupled with resizing, uploading and countless computer crashes, there were more of these - crocodiles.
Finally, the calendar was ready, fresh & crisp from the printer, ten thousand of them, weighing a total of 2.52 metric tonnes, excluding the packaging. Relays of print shop staff hand-carried them from a truck, package by package, and stacked them chest high into our sitting room at home, to disbelieving protests from the family. Wow, what a baby we had delivered! Urgent questions arose - of storage, stock controls, transportation and distribution. Next was to come the "Two-Person Sales & Marketing Show" and a lot more of those reptiles in the night!
By the end of September 2008, worrying how we might sell this huge quantity (a 'round figure' which had looked easy on paper) we could have started a huge crocodile farm, considering the number of restless, sleep-disturbed nights endured. The frightening thought came that we might not even be able to cover the printing expenses costs and other related costs, far less raise funds for charity.
Word of our project had however already reached Bangkok, and the sympathetic ears of Dr Suvit Yodmani, at that time, the Minister of Tourism and Sports. Dr Suvit generously agreed to preside at our official "Calendar Launch" on 5th October 2007, hosted by the newly-opened Sofitel Riverside Hotel, and flew up from Bangkok for the occasion. We will never be able to thank you enough for that, Dr. Suvit.
Although the calendar had gone on sale at a few locations in Chiang Mai, it soon became obvious that we would have to depend on sales to local companies as well as to individual consumers, and we were obliged to approach the corporate market. However, being just two private individuals with neither a sales team, nor an advertising budget; without being a registered charity, or an established company, we soon discovered how difficult it is to promote an 'unknown' We were often disheartened by the scores of proposals we sent out that were never even acknowledged, or the sales presentations we made, which were turned down. This did not in any way serve to reduce the 'nocturnal crocodile' count! To offset these disappointments, we were thrilled by the overwhelming reaction from others who enthusiastically shared both our vision, and our objectives. (Please see our thanks and acknowledgments page)
The conclusion is that we have happily raised a substantial sum of money, and will present our donation to the 'Dream Weaving for Peace Foundation' on Friday 4th April 2008. The word 'dream' is appropriate as we write this, as the last 14 months of work and planning which went into this project seems somehow unreal, although the 'reptilian memories' are still vivid!
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