Are the Elusive SantaCon Organizers Part of Figment NYC? [UPDATED]

Posted on: December 11th, 2014 at 9:24 am by

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Outside the 13th Step, December 2013

[UPDATED BELOW] We are mere hours away from SantaCon, the yearly parade of alcoholics disguised as Santa who binge drink, puke, piss, stumble and pub crawl their way across the City. SantaCon got its start in San Francisco in 1994 when a small group of people dressed as Santa marched through the streets, crashed parties and looked for harmless ways to shock people. No liquor was involved.

20 years later, the irreverent merry making event has been co-opted and run into the ground by frat culture. It has devolved into an anonymous text-orchestrated pub crawl for bros and hos who gather at 10AM sharp to start drinking and continue to do so until 4AM the following morning, all in the name of charity. According to ever-elusive SantaCon organizers, their estimated 30,000 participants allegedly raised $60,000 for Food Bank for NYC in 2013.

The backlash against this inebriated idiocy gained traction last year when local politicians, community boards, neighborhoods, neighborhood bars, the NYPD – even the LIRR – all said enough was enough and declared war on SantaCon. Hell’s Kitchen was successful at preventing the all day shitshow from consuming the neighborhood. This year SantaCon set their sights on Bushwick until the community board and local bars were vocal about wanting nothing to do with the low rent drunk parade. But the question remains, who is SantaCon? Who are these organizers that direct tens of thousands of people to descend upon our neighborhoods? Follow the money…

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Poster by the LES Dwellers

From what we can gather, SantaCon organizers are most likely Figment, a not-for-profit organization that holds large-scale art related events in various cities across the country. Figment also hosts a yearly festival on Governors Island. [UPDATED BELOW]

Their event partners include: The Trust for Governors Island, The National Park Service, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, The Black Rock Arts Foundation, The Educational Alliance Art School, The Waterfront Alliance, Governors Island Alliance, ENYA, Build It Green! NYC, Circle Arts, The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Eyebeam, iKatun, City of Greater Geelong and Diversitat.

Moreover, Figment is listed on the SantaCon website as one of the very few charities that benefit from SantaCon proceeds. In a recent article in The Villager, organizers claimed they provided Figment “almost 40% of the operating budget in 2013.”

Figment is even looking for volunteers to help out with the event this Saturday. George F. Ingalls, a Producer on board recently posted to Facebook:

Who likes cold and getting up early on a Saturday? Who likes Figment NYC enough to do it anyways?

For the second year, Santacon is helping fundraise for FIGMENT, and we need people to help out this Saturday morning. We’re only working from 10:00-11:00, after which I plan to seek out an irish coffee somewhere.

I know it will be fun, and we’ll get to do some good. Last year this was very successful; we pulled in (I think) over $4k in about an hour, and the more people we have the better we can do. We’ll work in pairs, so no one will be braving it alone.

Please let me know if you can help out.

Thanks y’all.

The social media love doesn’t end there, though. Over the Summer, SantaCon couldn’t stop tweeting about Figment. Of course, no single piece of this information is a smoking gun. Yet if one really wants to know who is running the chaotic pub crawl, Figment is definitely a suspect. Follow the money.

UPDATE: Figment Executive Producer responded to the claims…

Hi there everyone… I’m David Koren, the volunteer Executive Producer of FIGMENT. I can confirm that FIGMENT does not organize Santacon, and is not involved in running it in any way. FIGMENT NYC is a large free participatory arts event that takes place on Governors Island in June each year, and brings over 25,000 people who engage with 3-400 interactive and participatory arts projects, all for free. We also create an artist-designed minigolf course, an arts-oriented treehouse, a collection of interactive sculptures, and a pavilion that is the result of an international architectural design competition. And it’s all offered, to the general public, to everyone from all walks of life, for free. We’ve been doing this since 2007, and hope to keep doing it for a very long time. (more info at http://figmentproject.org) But, unfortunately, that requires some funding. FIGMENT is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that is largely funded by individual donations and a few government and foundation grants. Last year, for the first time, we accepted a donation from Santacon. This year, we plan to accept another one. We could certainly consider declining this charitable support, but that would likely affect our free programming in some way, and I’m not sure that our declining the support would have any impact on Santacon. If anyone has any specific thoughts on how we, as a charity that is supported by Santacon, should relate to the event which many feel has gotten out of hand, please email me at davidkoren@figmentproject.org. I’d love to hear what you think! But no, Santacon isn’t our baby, we’re just a beneficiary, and the money we receive goes to create free arts programming for everyone.

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