WBUR

First Night Boston Weathers Financial Storm

BOSTON — Despite a financial setback that put this year’s First Night Boston celebration in jeopardy, the festivities will go on as planned.

A heavy snowstorm December 31, 2008 kept many revelers home, forcing button sales for the annual event down by $196,000. First Night Executive Director Geri Guardino said they were forced to reduce staff salaries, lay off some full time staff and renegotiate vendor contracts.

“We designed a plan that we thought was doable, and we did a good job of implementing it so that I don’t think we were ever that close to no First Night,” said Guardino. “If we hadn’t done that plan, we’d be gone.”

The plan called for three of First Night’s five staffers to be laid off, substantial salary reductions for the staffers who remained, and re-negotiated contracts with First Night performers and vendors.

“I really thought the plan could work,” said Guardino. “And it worked better than we thought.”

Guardino says this year’s budget of $1.17 million means First Night 2010 will have the same level of programming as last year, including the midnight fireworks display which is being fully funded by Cape Cod businessman Frank Ward.

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