Award Name: Event Innovation of the Year Award

Houston Action Center's Indian Ocean Concert 2008 Event

Key Measurement Metrics Highlights:
  • New event idea/event = Assurance from Shangri-la Art Gallery (principle sponsor) of bearing 100% cost of holding the Indian Ocean concert.
  • # of participants/attendees = over 700 (almost sold out crowd!)
  • Type and diversity of attendees:

    - All age groups (5 - 77 years)
    - Various Nationalities mostly South East Asian and Americans (largely due to the appealing fusion music band selected and wide publicity)
    - Demographics: Students, Professionals, Businessmen and Senior citizens.

  • Revenue generated = $12,000 (including $4,000 from brochure advertisements)
  • Degree of replicability (1-5) = 5 (max)
  • Media coverage (# of articles)

    - 9 regular Press Releases (PR) in three leading news papers - Voice of Asia, India Herald, and Indo-America News (e.g. http://www.indoamerican-news.com/Stories/080108/IndianOcean.html) These newspapers cater to the majority of the 300,000 Indians in Houston and therefore are most read.
    - Our sponsor has also posted a copy of the press release on their website, https://shangrilaconcerts.com/indianoceanpress.html
    - Created awareness about CRY America and its mission on 5 different radio channels:

    a) HumTumCity
    b) Meena Dutt
    c) Masala Radio
    d) KGOL Rice University
    e) Border Crossings

    - Exclusive coverage on TV Asia by Ms. Ruchi Roy, a prominent journalist: http://www.rmrmedia.com/blog/2008/09/indian-ocean-enthralls-houston.

(Indian Ocean concert event date - August 29th, 2008)

Situation on the day (May 31st, 2008) CRY Houston Action Center was asked if we wanted to hold the Indian Ocean concert:

  • No experience of event management to organize a concert of this magnitude.
  • No media contacts.
  • Action center was only 6 months old with 4 core active volunteers (this number had reduced from 10 in Jan 2008 due to volunteer turnover and layoffs).
  • Initial reconnaissance of the situation suggested that sponsorships would be hard to get due to:

    o Economic slowdown
    o Budgets committed to other charitable organizations
    o Restricted Budget allocations by companies.

  • Other concert organizers with past experiences discouraged us from holding this event as most concerts were known to incur heavy losses in Houston. This would mean taking money away from the underprivileged children we support, rather than giving to them.
  • Further, in Houston several other events are held simultaneously attracting crowds.
  • An earlier organizer (AID - Association for India's Development) of the Indian Ocean concert in 2006 could manage to get an audience of only about 150 people. Indian Ocean had not yet been able to establish its foothold in this region.
Introduction to Shangri-la Art Gallery:
  • CRY America Houston Action Center approached Shangri-la Art Gallery (a firm with a past experience of holding a concert in May 2008 through its sister arm called Shangri-la Entertainment.

Benefits of partnering with Shangri-la

  • Experience of Shangri-la in holding a concert.
  • Shangri-La was an established name, which would help CRY gain quick acceptability and recognition. CRY Houston action center was only 6 months old.
  • Already established infrastructure of the partnering firm - had a back-office in India with dedicated full-time staff to help with tele-marketing, website designing, online and telephone ticketing, etc with no additional cost to CRY.
  • Limited available manpower with Houston Action Center (only four core members were left out of ten owing to layoffs and moving out of volunteers). Shangri-la's team strengthened the CRY Houston Action center's team and provided experience and helped move swiftly.
  • Financial Assurance of Shangri-la to bear 100% cost of holding the event (initial budget estimate was $16,700). Since concerts in Houston were known to have a repeatable trend of losses (Shangri-la themselves incurred a loss of $7600 during their previous concert).
  • Shangri-La's owner had well established himself in the local business community and agreed to introduce us and provide an opportunity to network with this genre of people.
Since, Shangri-la owners were unable to devote time themselves towards the concert activities, CRY Houston Action center took it upon itself to lead and coordinate the entire event. The CRY Houston Action Center:
  • Rapidly recruited new volunteers to the team from different fields and organized regular meetings with the core team to find creative ways to overcome hurdles and bottlenecks.
  • It delegated different responsibilities to its members, and regularly reviewed and monitored its progress.
  • The team participated in aggressive campaigning and pooled in limited logistic resources for optimum utilization (It is worth mentioning that the concert activities began only a month prior to the event date).
  • Reached out to its neighboring CRY chapter at the Texas A & M University to invite them and also arrange for their transportation (car pooling, etc). (This has built a strong relationship between the two teams.)
  • Instead of looking at other non-profit organizations (Asha, AID, Vibha, Pratham, etc.) as rivals, we approached them as associates, and solicited their cooperation. This was very well received. (For e.g. The Houston Action Center leader was invited to represent CRY at the board of director meeting of Pratham.)
  • Negotiated with university police to make available adequate parking space and also offer 'free-parking' for the event.
  • We Set-up contacts with Indian organizations of other universities and distributed e-flyers at numerous booths in various strategic locations - universities, restaurants, business establishments, other concerts, etc.
  • Developed innovative methods to maximize ticket sales by offering progressive group discounts.
  • The team members also approached their friends and contacts creating further awareness about CRY America.
  • We approached various media organizations: radios, newspapers, and TV at appropriate levels and have in turn developed a strong relationship with various media personnel.
  • We succeeded in securing $4,000 in brochure advertisements that added not only to generate revenue for the event, but also in building a relationship with local businesses.
Conclusion:
We utilized the concert platform to deliver an elaborate talk on CRY followed by an audio visual presentation of the CRY song 'Mera Bhi Toh Adhikaar Hai' and the CRY 60 sec film. We achieved the primary aim of creating the much needed awareness about CRY America and its activities to a large Indo-American community in this region.
Further, associations with 35 other local Indian non-profit, professional, social, student and cultural organizations, including TIE, Net IP, Pratham, IIT Alumni Association, India Culture Center, etc. were developed. CRY Houston Action Center leveraged Shangri-la owner's contacts with leaders of these organizations and got CRY America's name out to several of Houstonians.

The Indian Ocean concert event was attended by many prominent personalities of Houston and our distribution list has increased to over 900 volunteers.
A copy of the post event press report that was published by Voice of Asia is included.