Ben KonenBen Konen is a student at Berklee College of Music. With the help of International Programs he and his band, Cluttered Clarity, will be touring around Europe this summer. Read more about Ben’s adventures here.

Last week I explained how we found the members for the band Cluttered Clarity. Today I will talk about getting sponsors to pay the most expensive part in touring: the plane tickets.

As soon as I knew that the band had been accepted to the 2 biggest Jazz festivals in Luxembourg, Jernej and I were brainstorming about how to come up with 5,000 dollars, the amount of money you need to pay for 4 plane tickets. First, we started by walking into every office at Berklee that might have the slightest interest in funding the tour. It took us a whole afternoon to walk to about 10 different offices. Most offices couldn’t help us, but gave us advice, which office or person to contact. Further more they explained to us which kind of projects they will fund and told us to come back if we need more help.

band photo

Cluttered Clarity, the Band

The last office I went to was Berklee’s Global Initiatives. They explained to me that I need to write a proposal and bring it to their director, Jason Camelio. I never wrote a proposal. Fortunately, I took a class at Berklee explaining the basics about writing a proposal. On top of that, our bassist’s mother, who is an English teacher, revised my text.

The next day I went back to Global Initiatives to submit my proposal.  Jason himself was there and he took some time to go over the proposal right away. He liked the proposal, but it would take him approximately 2 weeks to get a team together and review the proposal.

A week before I wrote the proposal, I also wrote letters to the embassy of Luxembourg in the US, and the embassy of the US in Luxembourg. I explained to them that this would be a great opportunity to work on the cultural exchange of the 2 countries. I also offered to play free concerts and to do master classes, workshops, or talks about the difficulties and advantages a European student faces studying in the US. Stephanie Shaheen, a representative of the US embassy immediately replied and explained to me that she loves the project, but that the embassy is short on money and she first needs to consult with Washington.

The day after I submitted the proposal I got a positive reply from the US embassy, letting me know that the US government could offers us a grant of 5,000 dollars. In return, we need to play 2 concerts for them. One concert on July 3rd and one concert a week later where we would probably do a workshop as well.

The whole week was a great experience. I learned a lot of the different offices at Berklee, how they function, and what they do for the students. My knowledge grew and I learned about the exchange between the US and Luxembourg. And most importantly, I learned to come up with and try even the most ridiculous solutions. I thought the US government would be the last place to help us out and at the end, they were the first helping us, making our dream come true. So far it has been a pleasure working with Stephanie’s team at the US embassy and I am really looking forward to the concerts and workshop we will play for them.

Yours truly,
Ben Konen