Using music as bait, three end-of-2013 fundraisers enticed Idahoans into making the Gem State a better place. Now, with the guitar amplifiers unplugged and checks being written, it's time to pat everyone on the back:
The annual Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza in Boise has become a veritable, charitable beast.
In its eighth year, the Curtis Stigers-led variety show generated a record $136,784.79 for the homeless shelter Interfaith Sanctuary.
Read that again: $136,784.79.
It's a staggering figure, even for the Dec. 21-23 event that sold out the Egyptian Theatre in advance. It's not just a testament to performers, organizers and volunteers who donated time. It's a statement about our neighbors who attended and gave monumentally.
Idaho Public Television produced a video that opened each night. It documented a woman's descent into homelessness, the help she received from Interfaith Sanctuary, then her eventual recovery: employment and an apartment. After the film, Xtravaganza co-producer Jodi Peterson educated audiences about "The Gift of Shelter," a $10 expenditure that provides a night of food, shelter and social services.
"We asked the audience to buy 'The Gift of Shelter' and give it as a stocking stuffer," Stigers says. "With the video and the offer of 'Shelter,' $33,000 of the proceeds came directly from that. It was an incredible thing to witness."
Spokane-raised singer-songwriter Tyrone Wells drew a record-setting crowd to 94.9 FM The River's "Concert for Cause" - not for attendance, for generosity.
Auctions for items such as autographed guitars and River compilation CD/live-session packages earned the largest amount in the event's 10-year history. The Knitting Factory also donated a portion of each ticket sold at the Dec. 18 event.
The night's end result was nearly $24,000, which goes to the Women's and Children's Alliance.
Moxie Java's annual local-music CD, "IdahoHoHo," is extremely cool. How can any music fan not love the idea of an album that simultaneously aids the Idaho Foodbank and exposes listeners to area musicians?
After a hiccup in 2012 (the third annual CD didn't earn a penny for the Foodbank), Moxie Java injected a little caffeine into the marketing of "IdahoHoHo" in 2013.
Exceeding expectations, it raised $7,821.60 for the Foodbank this holiday season. It also was the year's best-selling CD at the Record Exchange. Not bad at all, eh?
BARGAINS AT VILLAGE CINEMA
It's not enough that the Treasure Valley's ritzy new multiplex offers D-Box motion seating, Dolby Atmos sound and cocktail-service VIP areas. Now Village Cinema has to beat up on poor ol' local discount theaters, too?
Movies for $5 on Tuesdays? What's this promotion all about?
It's something to lure people out of the house during "doldrums times," says James Howard, Village Cinema's director of operations.
"Like it is outside right now - when you can't even see the sky or the mountains and nobody really wants to go outside or venture out," Howard explains. "It's common in the industry that a lot of people do a bargain Tuesday."
Don't expect $5 Tuesdays to stop when the sun comes out. Village Cinema launched the promotion two Tuesdays ago, and the economic impact was immediate. Foot traffic increased "fivefold" at The Village at Meridian, Howard says, which is good for all the businesses.
The cinema's second-floor restaurant, Backstage Bistro, is offering its own answer to $5 Tuesdays: $5 martinis, $5 wines by the glass, $5 burgers, $4 well drinks and $3 beers, Howard says. (Not just domestics, either - anything on tap.)
As a result of these Village Cinema deals, the Bistro was full at 6:30 p.m. this past Tuesday - normally not a packed time.
Discount Tuesdays are a smart way to lure newcomers to Village Cinema. Some moviegoers still haven't grasped the idea of a restaurant inside a movie theater - one that not only offers fine-dining entrees, but casual bistro options.
"They don't make that connection," Howard says. "They're now figuring it out."
The Bistro recently updated its menu to include additional sandwiches such as a chicken club and teriyaki salmon burger.
Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts "The Other Studio" at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River and appears Thursdays on Channel 6 News.