Blues Nazis

Walter Potter
Thu Nov 25 00:32:25 EST 2004

There is a big difference between being a 501 (c) nonprofit and being
subsidized by tax dollars. As a nonprofit you don't have to pay taxes
and a contributor can write a donation off their taxes. But you don't
get funds from the government as a 501(c), you might apply to get grants
from the government and usually you need to be a 501(c) to get the grant
but the gov't doesn't just hand you money.

But I agree that a blues society needs to operate with wide open doors
and wide open books. Board meetings need to be open to the public, the
public just needs to realize that there is work to be done and if they
want to bring something up for discussion they should request that it be
added to the meeting's agenda.

There are some limitations imposed by the 501(c) that many folks don't
realize. Back when I was more involved with the local blues society we
held a couple of events to honor local players with them getting the
proceeds. In the first case the musician needed the money to keep from
losing their house. We raised that and enough to buy him a new piano. In
the second case the funds helped defray the medical expenses of another
local musician. Then we found out that you can not have an event to
raise funds for an individual when you are a 501(c). We didn't get into
trouble but it brought those events to a screeching halt no matter how
much good they did.

Another thing you can't do as a 501(c) is have a political agenda. We
could not hold an event to raise funds for a political candidate. We
could and did have events with the idea bringing the white and black
communities closer together. We did try to get other organizations to
come out to sign up folks to vote (with no success). We tried to get the
NAACP and the Urban League to set up information booths (with no
success). We could allow political parties and political action groups
to set up information booths (only one asked and didn't follow through)
but we could not advocate anything more than philosophical concepts.

Any way, as much as we tried to do everything in a fair and above board
manner while I was involved, some folks still griped. Not enough
acoustic acts, not enough local acts, too many acoustic acts, too many
local acts, too loud, and on, and on, and on ... The one thing I noticed
was that the people who complained the most never lended a hand. Most
were not even society members.

Paul Nunis wrote:
> As long as ANY such group is claiming non-profit status with the IRS, and
> is being subsidized by our tax dollars, I have every right to complain if
> they give the appearance of engaging in forbidden conduct, such as a
> pattern of basing their bookings on race or gender.
> Thye need to bend over backwards to avoid giving any hint of impropriety,
> and be as transparent as possible in their dealings.
> If they want give up that 501(c) status, then they can do what they want,
> and other people should form an inclusive blues society to do things right.
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"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." -Will Rogers

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