Longtime festival organizer Bob Barsotti started the Bill Graham Foundation, a nonprofit created in memory of the legendary Bay Area music promoter. On Saturday, the foundation will present Bill’s Birthday Bash at the Fillmore, featuring performances from Cake, Dan Hicks and Fishbear, with proceeds benefitting local nonprofit organizations.
What was the motivation for starting the Bill Graham Foundation? When Bill died in 1991, I met with a group of his friends and co-workers to come up with a way to honor his name and continue his work in the community.
What’s the history of Bill’s Birthday Bash? Well, his birthday is in January, which is usually a quiet time for bands, and the Fillmore is usually open, so we thought it would be a great time to recognize his birthday and raise his profile a little bit.
What groups benefit from this event? Well, the foundation gives away around 80 to 100 grants each year to nonprofit groups, all for under $5,000. Over the years, we’ve given away over $1 million. The nonprofits are arts-based primarily, but we try to cover a wide range of topics.
Has this been helpful in reminding the community about Bill Graham’s legacy in the Bay Area? I think it has. One of our goals is to raise money for charity, but the other is to perpetuate his name. As time goes on, young people may not know or remember who Bill was. We’re trying to keep his memory alive with our work.