From leadership’s participation in a dozen or more actual bands over the years to the zine it publishes every summer in lieu of camp guidelines and rules, it’s hard to find a more legitimately punk rock nonprofit than Girls Rock Louisville.
But when the amps are off and the power chords have faded, the organization — whose mission is to teach girls, trans (regardless of identity) and gender nonconforming youth confidence through music — is left to figure out the nitty-gritty of nonprofit administration.
The hardest question may be money, and that includes planning and executing fundraisers and developing an overall ethos. Part of that ethos is the inaugural Girls Rock Sparkle Ball, which will be held Friday, Dec. 7, at Zanzabar.
Carrie Neumayer, executive director and co-founder of Girls Rock Louisville, spoke with Insider about the process that led to the event. In the past, Girls Rock has hosted smaller fundraisers.
“I remember the very first thing we did was a bake sale,” she says. “We just had people bake things. And one year we had a Golden Girls Rock Louisville, where we showed ‘The Golden Girls’ and had a trivia night.”
“Fun” was the goal at the events, according to Neumayer, fundraisers that felt like Girls Rock programming.
In recent years, Girls Rock has grown, adding after-school programming at locations around Louisville. A bigger program means a bigger budget, but Neumayer says the organization wanted to grow carefully.
“Growth for the sake of growth is really dangerous. You grow when you need to grow,” she says.
Some of the organization’s growth aimed to provide programming to kids who couldn’t access the events because of transportation barriers or other impediments.
“We decided instead of putting our efforts into buying a building and trying to run programs there throughout the year, instead going to other places and bringing our programming there,” says Neumayer.
Girls Rock’s school-year programming will be going new places this spring, as it begins partnerships with Latin-focused community center La Casita and social services agency Maryhurst, which offers residential and transitional care for kids. Neumayer also hints at a program in collaboration with KMAC that would involve Girls Rock graduates and a blending of visual arts and music.
She wouldn’t part with any details, though, just saying “stay tuned.”
Collaborating with La Casita mirrors work to expand musically. Girls Rock isn’t just rock — it includes include hip-hop, Latin music and any other style kids identify with or love.
To support expanded programming, goes the conventional wisdom, an organization needs a black-tie event with a bunch of rich people in attendance. The reason Girls Rock eschewed that black-tie fundraiser is similar to the reason it takes programming to the community instead of buying a location to host programming — it wants to remove barriers to participation.
“We want everyone to feel like they can contribute to the organization regardless of what their financial status is,” she says.
One of the main attractions for Friday’s Sparkle Ball is Glitteroke, a live band karaoke featuring members of Girls Rock volunteers and staff. The super group takes its name from last year’s event Glitteroke, for which they formed.
Glitteroke was a big success, organizers say. More importantly, it fit in with the feeling of Girls Rock. It was a come-as-you-are night at Zanzabar, a nightspot that still hosts punk, hardcore and a dozen other sub-genres of music.
Instead of going black tie, Girls Rock decided to evolve Glitteroke into the Sparkle Ball. They added a silent auction and an art sale with work from women, trans and gender nonconforming artists.
Black tie isn’t required, but dressing up is encouraged in the form of costumes based on the evening’s themes: sparkles, unicorns and pizza.
Get your sparkle on this Friday, Dec. 7, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Zanzabar is located at 2100 S. Preston St. in Germantown. There is a $5 cover. To bid on songs or learn more, check out Girls Rock Louisville on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
This post has been edited to remove the VIP options, which are no longer available.