In 2012, we (MDMNYC is Polly Bresnick, Amanda Bullock, and new crew member Molly Rose Quinn) hosted the first-ever New York City–based marathon-style reading of Herman Melville's epic novel Moby-Dick, or The Whale. The event was a success beyond our dreams, receiving coverage from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, Gothamist and much more and drawing hundreds of people to hear the famous tale of Ahab and the white whale read aloud. MDMNYC features 150+ readers, each reading a 10-minute segment of the novel over three days. The 2012 marathon featured readers such as Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Jonathan Ames, Rick Moody, Sarah Vowell, Eileen Myles, Lynne Tillman, Mark Doten, Mitchell Jackson, Said Sayrafiezadeh, Fiona Maazel, Touré, Ophira Eisenberg, and many more, plus booksellers, publishing industry friends, and fans of the book. In 2013, we hosted a variety show of Moby-Dick and seafaring miscellany, the full three-day marathon will return this year, November 14 to 16. (The weekend of the marathon is tied to the U.S. publication anniversary of the book, November 14, 1851.)
One of the biggest surprises of producing the 2012 marathon was the unexpected cost: printing programs and posters, procuring bowls and spoons for clam chowder, providing coffee and wine for attendees, schlepping people and things around the city, and a long list of other production expenses. It all added up.
Thus, this Kickstarter campaign. The funding will help pay for the aforementioned expenses (printing and providing spoons and such) but it will also allow us to make the whole marathon bigger and better: color programs, hiring a designer to create print and online materials, higher quality print souvenirs, more chowder spoons, and the countless miscellaneous expenses that producing an event of this magnitude requires.
We not only hope to fund this year's marathon, but also to grow the MDMNYC community: even if you might not be able to attend the marathon in NYC, you can be an essential part of the event through donating to this campaign. To sweeten the pot, we've asked some of our favorite Moby-Dick nuts (several of them successful Kickstarter projects!) to contribute art, games, songs, books, jokes, and more as rewards.
Our initial goal is the minimum amount necessary to produce the 2014 marathon and produce and ship your rewards. But if we raised more than the minimum? What if we could hire someone to make a website? Livestream the marathon? Help with travel expenses for far-flung readers? Establish a long-term fund for future MDMNYC events? Our goals are set with this year's marathon in mind—if we hit them, you'll see the results in November—but any funding beyond our initial goal will also ensure the long-term sustainability, vitality, and growth of MDMNYC.
Update Monday, June 23: We have met our initial goal and are overjoyed; but our chase isn't over! The whale is still out there!
We are announcing our first stretch goal: $7,500.
If we are able to hit this level of funding, we will be able to do two very important things to expand and enhance this year's marathon: we will be able to hire someone to build a website for MDMNYC to inform and grow our community past, present, and future; and we will be able to establish a fund to help out-of-town readers with transport to NYC the weekend of the event. These two simple things have seemed like unattainable dreams for our little crew, but with your help we can get there! Every penny that we earn from this campaign will go toward Moby-Dick Marathon NYC, this year and beyond.
Update Thursday, July 3: We met our first stretch goal, thank you!
We are announcing our second, and quite ambitious, stretch goal: $10,000
This level of funding will allow us to hire some people to help out with the marathon weekend, such as photographers, and it will create a fund for future MDMNYC events. This means we won't have to fund raise for the event every year, or every other year! Every dollar that we raise that does not go into this year's marathon, establishing the website and other goals for MDMNYC as an organization, will go toward future events. By pledging or by increasing your pledge you are investing in the long-term vitality of MDMNYC. We want to keep this thing going, and we want you on board!
DETAILS ABOUT SELECT UNLIMITED REWARDS:
A digital download of "Sailor's Regret," an original sea shanty created for the 2013 That She Blows variety show, and "Song From the Belly of a Whale," inspired by Mara Sternberg's short story featured at Thar She Blows, by Amy Virginia Buchanan, who also led the Pequod Players in the performance of chapters 37–40 at the 2012 marathon
Illustrations by MOBY-DICK IN PICTURES artist Matt Kish, one bookmark featuring the white whale and one featuring Queequeg, screenprinted in three colors at Kayrock Screenprinting in Brooklyn, which is run by Karl LaRocca, a 2012 reader:
Poscards and tote bags (Eco Bags Recycled Cotton Shopping Tote) each featuring an illustration and design by award-winning artist and illustrator Brian Floca (his book Locomotive won the 2014 Caldecott Medal) and screenprinted at Kayrock Screenprinting
The 2014 MDMNYC poster, screenprinted at Kayrock Screenprinting and designed by award-winning artist and illustrator Brian Floca. Design not yet released (hopefully we will have an update at some point in the project), but it will definitely be great. Posters will ship unframed in sturdy tubes.
Digitally printed posters from Litographs exclusive to MDMNYC! Litographs creates art from the books you've read and loved, all created entirely from the text of classic books. One poster fits about a quarter of Moby-Dick, so we are producing four different posters, each with a different illustration evoking the books. Reward levels include one of the four, pick two, or hang the entire novel on your wall with the full set! Posters will ship unframed in sturdy tubes.
DETAILS ABOUT SELECT LIMITED REWARDS:
SOLD! "Ahab and the White Whale" by artist and illustrator Sophie Blackall, 8x10 watercolor created exclusively for MDMNYC:
SOLD! A seafaring painting, titled "Scuba," from 2012 MDMNYC poster illustrator and designer Bianca Stone:
Your very own copy of Moby Dick, or the Card Game from our friends at King Post Productions:
Beautiful editions of Moby-Dick from sponsor Penguin Classics, plus Nathaniel Philbrick's Why Read Moby-Dick and Philbrick's gripping account of the true story that partly inspired Melville's epic, In the Heart of the Sea, as well as the actual record of the incident in which the whaleship Essex was "stove by a whale"
Amy Virginia Buchanan, Pequod Players leader and 2013 variety show chanteuse, will compose a sea shanty featuring YOUR name and send you (digitally) a video of herself playing and singing your sea shanty in seafaring getup
Risks and challenges
Organizing an event of this size will always be a challenge, especially as we all have full-time jobs. For the longest portion of the marathon on Saturday, we need a centrally located venue that can host us from morning through midnight. It's difficult to find a space that meets all our needs, including availability and budget. In the past, all venues have donated their space and facilities (which we made up to them in publicity, foot traffic, food/beverage/book sales, and of course gratitude) but one of our stretch goals is a venue-rental fund, which would greatly expand our range of options.
One thing we keep hearing is that shipping rewards is a much bigger project than anyone expects, but listen: we are really good at spreadsheets, and our friends and partners have already RSVP'd to the envelope-stuffing-stamp-licking-address-double-checking parties we'll be holding this fall. We have every intention of getting you your rewards on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We are not yet taking reader inquiries/requests/etc. We are focused on this campaign, and when the campaign is complete we will be concentrating on securing venues for the event. Please do not ask to read at this time, but do save the dates of the marathon to attend!
If you add $20 to your pledge amount for any reward above $75 (POSTER level) that doesn't include a poster, we'll give you a chance to choose either the MDMNYC screenprinted poster or any one Litograph poster (so a choice of one of five designs total) when we send the backer surveys out after the project is completed.
As we mentioned in the story above, we were very surprised at the production cost of the 2012 marathon; a lot of small things added up to quite a lot, and quickly. We are hoping to cover the costs to produce the 2014 MDMNYC, and to produce and ship the Kickstarter rewards.
If we meet our modest initial goal, we have stretch goals beyond the $5,000 which we will announce. EVERY penny we receive from this campaign will go toward producing and marketing the Moby-Dick Marathon NYC.
Most of the $100+ levels (so not "TOTE" or "POSTCARD," of course) are named after chapter titles from MOBY-DICK.
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