The Biblioteca’s Other Social Enterprises
By Jaci Winters
In this second article on the Biblioteca’s social enterprises, I give you an overview of the role of the Teatro Santa Ana and Sala Quetzal, House and Garden Tours, and Bodega Sorpresas, all social enterprises which provide crucial financial support for the Biblioteca and all its services and free programs for Mexican youth.
For many visitors the highlight of their trip to San Miguel de Allende is the wonderful House and Garden Tour held every Sunday (and on some special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, or at sunset). Houses many people would only see from the outside are opened to the public by very generous home owners who want to support the Biblioteca. On Sundays, the courtyard of the Biblioteca is filled with visitors who pay 250 pesos (Mon-Sat) and 570 pesos (Sun) for a ticket to visit two or three houses and enjoy the entertainment provided by different Tuna groups each week. Buses are hired to transport people between houses, and they park as close to the houses as they are permitted. Many volunteers are involved in the House and Garden Tour as guides, ticket sellers, and bus monitors so that everything flows smoothly. One staff person is employed to manage the House and Garden Tours. Last year 4,900 people went on a house tour and this generated a profit of 490,813 pesos, which is 17 percent of the total social enterprise net revenue. The House and Garden Tours rely on visitors coming to San Miguel and are affected by any decrease in tourism or other economic downturns.
Our famous Bodega Sorpresas (Thrift Store) is run by a very dedicated group of volunteers, all Mexican ladies except for one, who have been involved for many years. People donate items such as clothing, books, household items, and electronics. The volunteers sort through it all on Wednesday and price the items so they are ready for the big sale every Thursday. Volunteers from the library also contribute by sorting out books that are too old or are duplicates, to add to the Thursday sale. Many people have told me they often find real bargains and the occasional high fashion item to round out their wardrobe. This small volunteer-run enterprise generated 338,834 pesos in 2011, which is 12 percent of the total enterprise revenue. All the funds raised by the Bodega Sorpresas are allocated to scholarships.
Teatro Santa Ana and the Sala Quetzal are the venues for lectures, music programs, films, dance, and plays. Many of these programs are organized and performed by outside groups who pay a percentage to the Biblioteca for the use of facilities, lighting, and sound equipment. In some cases lecturers ask for donations from the audience. The theater is undergoing some upgrading, and you will notice the new comfortable and numbered seats. The performers now have a nice dressing room to put on their costumes and do their makeup. The theater holds about 90 people and the Sala Quetzal about 50. The theater has its own ticket sales booth, at the entrance on Reloj, where playbills and the day`s events are posted. There are four staff who work in the theater and sala. In 2011, the theater and sala generated 4 percent of the total enterprise revenue; their net profit was 115,911 pesos. Audience attendance in 2011 was 10,666 for all events.
Atención, the Santa Ana Cafe, and the Tienda contributed 64 percent, 3 percent, and 2 percent respectively of the total Biblioteca social enterprises revenue. All the enterprises rely on high rates of tourism with the exception of the Bodega Sorpresas; therefore, it should come as no surprise that over the past few years Biblioteca revenues have deteriorated. However, the good news is we are still in the black due to good management and some generous donations.
I encourage you to attend theater productions and lectures and treat yourself to a House and Garden Tour, and perhaps you will find some fashion gem or book you have been searching for at the Bodega Sorpresas. For those of you who have enjoyed your time at the Biblioteca, we hope you will make a donation to our education classes, Spanish books, or scholarships through our Donor Choice Program. The Biblioteca can now give you a Mexican, US, or Canadian tax receipt for your gift.