FIGMENT NYC Board Member ‘Costume’ Jim Glaser Resigns in Light of SantaCon Connection

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 at 9:23 am by

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SantaCon, December 2011

Jim Glaser, a board member of the arts group FIGMENT, abruptly resigned yesterday after it was revealed he is one of the primary organizers of the raucous SantaCon pub crawl in New York City. News of this conflict-of-interest and his ultimate departure broke on a FIGMENT blog post penned by Executive Producer, David Koren. In the past few years, the annual shitshow has devolved into a drunken, and at times violent, anonymously organized event that trashes the neighborhoods with its estimated 30,000 participants that invade each December.

Glaser, who goes by the nickname “Costume Jim,” is no longer listed anywhere on the site. Expunged. Koren’s official statement on the matter reads:

Jim Glaser, a founding member of FIGMENT’s Board of Directors, has stepped forward in his contributions to SantaCon, much as he is involved with many participatory culture events. Jim looks forward to continuing to participate in FIGMENT as an artist and as founder of Kostume Kult, which provides kid-friendly costume giveaways each year at FIGMENT NYC. However, recognizing a conflict of interest, Jim has resigned from FIGMENT’s Board of Directors. We thank him for his formative role in FIGMENT’s development.

We value that there may be artistic and charitable intentions behind SantaCon, and understand that individuals involved with FIGMENT may don a Santa hat for one day a year. However, we will continue to maintain that any conflict of interest between the leadership of the two organizations is unacceptable.”

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Since we first broke the story of a connection between FIGMENT and SantaCon last Thursday, David Koren has vehemently denied the two groups were associated in any way, shape or form and said they were only benefactors of SantaCon’s charity proceeds. In 2013, SantaCon monies accounted for 40% of the group’s donations. Koren nevertheless assaulted the Bowery Boogie comment section where, for days, he vehemently denied that he, FIGMENT or any of its members had any connection to SantaCon. (Between the two posts there are over 300 comments)

One such proclamation:

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.

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Costume Jim Glaser

In another comment Koren wrote, “I am denying that. FIGMENT producers/organizers are NOT managing this as a sideline.”

In response to snowballing criticism that FIGMENT, a family-friendly arts organization known for its yearly event on Governor’s Island, was profiting from drunken, disorderly pub crawls, Koren issued a statement on Monday announcing the organization would in fact decline any donations from SantaCon this year. This sudden declaration to distance itself appeared suspicious. As if there was something to hide.

Apparently there was.

Late Tuesday night a TED Talk video surfaced of Jim Glaser, who sat on FIGMENT’s Board of Directors, discussing the various events he puts together. Gatherings included the Idiotarod, the Alt Oscars, a “protest” against the St.Patrick’s Day Parade, Burning Man costume balls, Figment on Governor’s Island, ZombieCon, and SantaCon. (Fast forward to 9:05)

Bowery Boogie readers also alerted us to an article published in The New Yorker in which Jim Glaser is associated with SantaCon and that the event spiraled out of control.

…Jim Glaser, who goes by the name Costume Jim, is the head of Kostume Kult, a group that is a leading participant in SantaCon—the annual parade of drunk people in Santa outfits. Costume Jim shook his head and said, “It grew beyond what we could control.”

Back in the Boogie comments section, Koren alleges he learned the news not firsthand, but through an announcement Jim Glaser had posted on a Burning Man message board. Indeed, Koren denies any prior knowledge that Glaser was moonlighting with SantaCon. “I did not know about Jim’s involvement with SantaCon until his post to the NYC Burning Man list at 12:13am Monday morning,” several of his comments contend.

From our vantage point, though, it’s hard to believe that Koren had no idea his fellow board member had a hand in organizing SantaCon, especially since Glaser participated in Ted Talks on the topic. It will be interesting to see if the remaining anonymous organizers can regain control of the event next year, eliminate the bro culture element, and return it to the creative, charity-based happening it once was. We’re not holding our breath.

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