Zero budget. Two semesters. Five students and one murder.
These are the elements that formed a culminating project of the event management students who organized a mystery themed gala at Algonquin’s Restaurant International on March 18.
Anna Arapova and Martina Maric were among the five students who coordinated the event.
Entitled “Journey to Murder”, it was based on the mystery movie “Clue” and involved a theatrical performance, a dinner and more than 60 elegantly dressed people attending the event.
The gala had one main cause — to raise $25,000 for the Canadian charity organization Children’s Wish Foundation — that helps children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses.
Professional actors from a non-profit community theatre group, The Lakeside Players, former Algonquin students as mentors, the charity organization representatives, as well as 14 current students volunteered their time to support the event.
“Our mentors gave us the idea,” said Maric. “We originally wanted to do a masquerade, but then we figured it would be hard, so we went with the murder mystery.”
It took the students seven months of hard work to bring the event to life. For most of them, it was the first experience that appeared rather challenging as they had to combine the organization with the studying process.
“For this event we have to find our own venue, we need to get donations, we need to have contracts with different people and we are not allowed to pay for anything,” said Arapova. “And it’s not that we just organize the event, we also have tons of homework.”
But the most challenging part for students was finding the venue operating with zero budget.
“Many of those who we contacted said ‘we cannot give you our services for free,” said Maric.
“Some companies don’t understand that.” added Arapova.
With their campaign that included posters around the campus and announcement through different social media, the students sold 54 tickets, leaving 10 complementary tickets for teachers and guests.
But as a result the amount of guests – including drop-ins – has exceeded their expectations, reaching 70.
At the end of the night the speaker from the Children’s Wish Foundation thanked the students, who raised around $23,000 for the organization.
Despite the challenges, the students enjoyed having such a hands-on experience instead of attending regular classes.
“Whenever we are going to have a job, it might help us, because we learn how to communicate with people, venues and donors,” said Arapova.