Making Ends Meet
The Finances of Tony's Legacy Platform
How It All Began And Attempting To Make Ends Meet
A Letter from Michael Menes, media designer
For those interested, on this page, I’ll share a brief history of the legacy website and some information about ongoing fundraising efforts and finances.
Initially undertaken in the fall of 2021, I began donating my time and energy to develop MIME SPOKEN HERE, a legacy platform to honor Tony, my mentor in mime and performing. Materials were graciously donated by Tony’s wife and performing partner, Karen Hurll-Montanaro who gave me “implicit” control to develop the site. The idea behind the project began shortly after Tony’s passing in 2002 when Karen mentioned that we should build a legacy website for Tony as there was too much content to be placed on her own personal website which I had also designed for her. Resources were always scarce to start the legacy site. Funding, time, and touring always got in the way. By 2021, as we approached the 50th anniversary of the founding of Celebration Barn in South Paris, Maine, the school Tony founded in 1972, at least fifteen years had passed since the conversation. But in the fall of 2021, there was a sudden glimmer of hope. There was some post-pandemic federal funding available as part of a jobs creation program that was authorized by Congress. Feeling that it would almost certainly receive support, Karen and I wrote a grant together through my individual artist profile as a media artist at the Maine Arts Commission. To demonstrate that I could publish such a site, a draft version of the site was posted online. The Maine Arts Commission approved the modest funding proposal, but did not prioritize the well written and supported grant. One juror thought that the draft version of the site was already functional. No public funds were ever received. There’s a lot more to this story and, as it’s not pretty, it’s a story not worth telling here.
The decision was to move forward and privately fund the project. Progress continued largely supported through donations from my own company, ménes.média. Karen and I were able to fundraise and raise part of the money needed to help cover essential overhead like web hosting, software licensing and fees to set up the Tony Fund L3C. Although a year later the platform carries some debt, it continues to develop. Whenever possible, I update pages, add content, write, organize and manage the mailing list and stay in touch with subscribers through email campaigns. The annual proceeds from the sales of books, video-on-demand courses and dvd sales all go to support Tony’s widow, Karen Hurll-Montanaro. Hopefully, the financial picture will improve over time for the legacy platform so that more resources find their way into the Tony Fund L3C. With platform design and maintenance, 90% is labor and we have limited manpower and a deficit to try to recoup. Yet, despite these struggles, the value is unquestionably there. Through the Google Analytics plug-in it’s encouraging that the website has sometimes drawn as many as 700 unique visitors in a single month. It’s quite a testament to Tony’s legacy that even after so much time has passed, people still want to learn about him and the work he did during his lifetime.
Last year, after I returned from a long overseas tour of US Military bases for Armed Forces Entertainment, the website needed to be migrated to a better platform for WordPress. The site was showing serious issues of failing to load pages and was in need of optimization. After a lot of research and testing, a lack of resources from the web provider was the culprit. My company migrated the website to SITEGROUND, a faster and leading hosting service with much better resources and management of WordPress. Three days of tedious work… but at last the site is running well once again! From here forward there’s always more to do. There’s more content to add, SEO to optimize, and video footage to share. There’s also plenty of artists who Tony inspired and directed who deserve some exposure here and plans are to develop the MIME SPOKEN HERE YouTube Channel, the #2 search engine on the internet, to bring new students searching for mime tutorials to learn about Tony and his wonderful way of teaching.
Although the platform is privately supported and funded and we are not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, any donations to help offset the labor costs and various other expenses in maintaining the platform come in very handy. Stay tuned for more updates on this page concerning our fundraising goals as we move forward with the project throughout 2023.
Media Designer, ménes.média
MIME SPOKEN HERE has been made possible, in part, through the generous support of these institutions and individuals. THANK YOU!
Sara Ingram & Peter Gross
Jerry & Mert Parsons
Films by Huey