First Night 2013 May Have Been the Last Night

The organization that runs the annual event is closing down, unless someone else steps in to keep the tradition alive.

The country’s oldest and largest New Year’s arts festival is in jeopardy after the organization that runs it announced Thursday that they didn’t have enough money to carry on. But Mayor Tom Menino has vowed to keep the annual First Night event alive.

“If there is a will, there’s a way,” Menino said Friday morning.

On Thursday, the organization that has run the annual event for the last four decades announced that due to a lack of funding, they must close down the operation for good.

In a statement sent to UniversalHub, the Board of Directors of First Night said the agency does not currently have the funds to continue planning First Night Boston 2014.

The non-profit voted to cease operations, after 37 years of events in Boston on New Year’s Eve. “It’s true. We will cease operations June 30. Thanks for a great 37 years, Boston,” organizers wrote on their Facebook and Twitter accounts Thursday night, when the news broke.

The board cited declining foundation and sponsorship dollars as the main reason First Night would not be able to raise the funds necessary to produce this year’s event, according to the statement. “This will mean the loss of three full-time positions, one part-time position, six year-round contractor positions and various seasonal contract festival production positions. First Night does have a small reserve, and will be able to pay its bills before closing its doors,” organizers said.

Like Menino, who has remained optimistic that the tradition will continue, with another organization’s help, the directors said they would like to transfer the trademark to the city to try and find the appropriate agency to put on the 38th annual celebration on December 31, to “produce an event containing at least some of the elements of a First Night celebration.”

The event attracts millions of people to the city each season, and brings in roughly $28 million in revenue.

Upon hearing the news that the event may be in jeopardy, those with fond memories of First Night were troubled by the announcement. “We have done this every year since you started and now are taking the grandkids. The city will loose tons of money, time the city steps up and works on this,” said Stacey Reilly, on the First Night Facebook page. 

Aj Thakkar, a former organizer, added that the announcement was saddening. “And shocking! Being a First Night organizer for me was one of the best experiences of my life. The team of First Night are the best people to work with. I am still in shock,” she said.