How to Get Rich Quick. Or Not.
Some facts and thoughts about event production
Several times I have had a student comment that I “must make a lot of money” when I host workshop instructors or produce student recitals or other dance events. In fact, as most of my producer peers in the belly dance community will agree, this couldn't be further from the truth. Putting on any kind of an event can be a financial risk and most often these days, the profit margin is slim to non-existent, so it takes nerves of steel to forge ahead!
Success or failure usually stands on the turn out (participants or audience) you receive and you really need to work hard to promote your event but there are several additional ways you can help finance an event. One of the first and most important things you need to determine is whether your event is for profit or non-profit as this directly affects your planning as well as your outcome. If you are a producing an event that is of benefit to your community (belly dance or otherwise) such as a fundraiser you may be able to get sponsors to back you, have performers and professionals donate their services and ask for volunteer help.
If you are a non-profit organization it is often possible to receive grants, reduced rental rates, donated products/services and volunteer help. If you are a for-profit business then you are usually paying full rate for all services you receive just as you would expect to be paid full price for the service or products you offer. If you can do some of your own work, such as designing your own posters and programs, negotiate an exchange of services or own some of your own equipment like sound systems, video cameras, etc. you can offset some of the following costs that you need to consider in order to create a successful event:
HAFLAS AND CASUAL EVENTS
1. Venue rental (community and church halls, school gym, large studio, restaurants, etc.)
2. Sound system rental
3. Light rental
4. Backdrop rental
1. Theatre rental (sound and light technicians are usually an added cost and if you want tech time you have to add that to your rental hours)
2. Poster, program and ticket design
3. Poster, program and ticket printing
4. Performance fee if there is a visiting headline performer
5. Honorariums or performance fees for guest performers
6. Pay or honorariums for MC, Stage Manager, Front of House and/or Ushers
1. Venue rental (community hall, church hall, school gym, large studio, etc.)
• Preferably a space with mirrors, but not necessary
• Preferably with a raised stage if workshop attendance is large
2. Sound System rental
3. Head set for the instructor if the venue and workshop attendance are large
4. Travel costs – gas, ferry, bus rides, etc.
5. Instructor's fee
• This is sometimes a set rate for a minimum number of hours or a per hour basis
Extra costs that you may or may not choose to incur:
If you are hosting an instructor from far outside your local community or country you will have the following additional costs:
8. Exchange Rate – Most international instructors prefer to be paid in U.S. currency, which means you must account for exchange rate fluctuations when planning your budget.
After laying out some of the reality of the financial costs and then adding in the time and effort it takes to plan, organize and execute an event one might ask why we even bother. And that's a good question! Speaking for myself, I have several reasons for the various events I produce:
Haflas held in halls and community spaces – this allows for a more casual approach to performing and gives my company members and students performance experience.
Student Recitals and shows held in theatre spaces – this gives my students and company members the opportunity to showcase what they have learned each dance year, for friends and family (in the case of recitals) or gives them the goal of honing technical skill and stage presence (in the case of a professional show). It also gives them the opportunity to experience a formal performance setting with a proper stage, change rooms, professional lighting and sound systems, etc.
Hosting Workshops – I like to attend workshops hosted by others (because all I have to do is attend and enjoy) but sometimes they are not bringing someone whose style, skill or knowledge that I really want to learn. In that case I consider whether I want to travel to study or whether bringing an instructor to my area might be beneficial to my dance community as well as myself.
I hope that helps clarify some of the elements – financial and otherwise - of event production.
Bobbie @ Bashirah Middle Eastern Dance Company
August 5, 2015