Kickstarter campaign fails, onward we go

“Tucson’s Heart and Soul, El Casino Ballroom” documentary producer Daniel Buckley

“Tucson’s Heart and Soul, El Casino Ballroom” documentary producer Daniel Buckley

I threw the I Ching last night as I have at many points of pending change in my life.

This time it was to see if the Kickstarter campaign might make its goal, and what to do about that outcome either way.

The verbiage is always circuitous and requires a bit of interpretation, and not infrequently a dry martini. But the message seemed clear.

No, it would not. And in the end, that was the outcome.

The best course from here, the hexagons suggested, would be to accept that, and move forward with dignity.

That is what I will do, albeit hampered by limited experience with the concept of dignity.

Foolish people would say that in the end I got nothing.

Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” tool, after all, and if you don’t get to your projected financial goal by the due date, you get none of the money pledged.

But I didn’t come away with nothing.

I had 60 backers who ponied up their hard-earned dollars in a time when the economy was less than stellar just because they came to believe that a documentary on El Casino Ballroom was worth being part of.  I got a chance to talk about what I was up to on the project via updates with both backers and the general public. And I got pretty decent press from the Tucson Weekly and Zocolo Magazine about the project as well.

There was a final payoff to my backers too. They weren’t charged a dime.

This project has been blessed in too many ways so far to quibble about money. Yes, good things would have happened with that cash influx. The most important of them may well find another way of coming into being.

But for me personally I have learned so much working on this film so far, about this building so many people love, about my community, about this moment in time and about the 65 years before in which El Casino Ballroom’s dance floor lay in mute witness to celebrations, history and remembrance. I have learned about a place where people found a home, where all were welcomed, and all became family. And most remarkably of all, this fairy tale place still goes on, spinning new memories into the decades to come.

It has weathered racism, time, politics and a physical storm that literally blew half its roof off and made it close for a decade.

It reopened in 2000 at half its size and capacity but full in heart.

This past summer the storm damaged part of El Casino Ballroom was torn down. A few weeks later, girders to support a roof appeared on the ground, and soon after were hoisted into place.

It took until last week for a new roof to start to be dropped in place. On July 15, El Casino Ballroom will hold a fundraiser to help with its reconstruction. It may take a while but I have no doubt that El Casino Ballroom will be restored to its full size. This community wouldn’t let it die in the 1990s, despite tremendous obstacles.  The new roof is patient testimony that a rebirth is on the way.

I’d like to think that work on this film helped in some small way to call attention to this historic and hallowed place, and might ultimately help it return to its former glory.

One thing I can say absolutely. On August 10, KXCI Radio will hold its first show at El Casino Ballroom since just before the roof blew off 20 years back. Like the first show it held at ECB, it will be a blues review. And without question, work on this film and a partnership with KXCI on that undertaking led to that concert. I take great pride in that.

Come hell or high water, something is going to appear on the screen of the Fox Theatre on 2 p.m.  August 5. I believe that something will be a wonderful film about Tucson’s El Casino Ballroom.

Thank you for your belief and your support of this project.

And with that, I must get back to it.

If you’d like to keep up on what’s happening with the film, please check out my El Casino project blog at

Or email me at

And don’t forget to join us at the Fox for the premiere August 5 at 2 p.m.

–      Daniel Buckley, producer

“Tucson’s Heart and Soul: El Casino Ballroom”



~ by Daniel Buckley on July 8, 2012.

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