Recipe for a Great Event

In Events & Workshops by jan_mfp

How to Bring Music for People to Your Home Town

Stephanie Alegre’s article from Connections describes how to produce a larger MfP event.

People from all over the US and Canada have invited Music for People into their communities and produced wonderful events. But for everyone who has enjoyed that experience, there are dozens who want to do so, but don’t know where to begin. So here is an event production “recipe” to get you started. Like a music improvisation, you will find yourself adding your own “spices” here and “garnishes” there to make it your own.

Ingredients

  • Agreeable Date
  • Friend and Helpers
  • Perfect Place
  • A Contract
  • A Budget that Works
  • A Sense of Humor
  • A Good Plan

Combine all the above with good intention and let ripen.
Nourishment and satisfaction are guaranteed.

Agreeable Date:

A confirmed date based on the availability of the artist leading your event should be secured. We recommend that you look for a date nine months to a year in the future. Keep in mind potential conflicts such as graduations, holidays, annual area events, etc. Most important, choose a time that fits YOUR schedule!

Perfect Place:

The perfect place is a spacious, daylight-filled room with no fixed seating. Remember that a beautiful space promotes beautiful music! Places that work well are churches, colleges, universities, retreat centers, community and holistic centers. Most places will charge a rental fee, which you will want to keep in line with your budget. Enlisting a hosting institution as a sponsor is a great help. You can start by approaching college and university music departments who may have access to funds to pay for the event and help you secure free or low-cost space on campus.

A Budget that Works:

The main objective of a budget is to keep you mindful of the potential expenses the event needs to cover. The budget includes fees for the artist, travel and accommodations, space and rental, and projected costs to promote your event. Keeping your budget low keeps your registration costs down, and makes the event accessible to more people. Know that it is your budget that determines the registration fee. You can expect your budget to change significantly as you move from projection to reality. It can change up to the point that you are ready to start promotion, when you will need to finalize your registration fee.

A Good Plan:

This is your road map and checklist; it will keep you on track and help you to delegate work to:

Friends and Helpers:

When you have committed partners, you’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have, and how easy it will be to gather all the pieces together. If there are people among your group who have the skills, abilities, resources, or contacts to move you along, all the better. You will need help with loading and unloading equipment and set up and breakdown unless that is part of an agreement you’ve made with a hosting institution. You’ll definitely want several people to help you on the day of the event with registration and cleanup, as well as with last minute surprises.

Contract:

This written agreement will help clarify mutual financial and hands-on responsibilities.

Sense of Humor:

Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, ahhh! Oh!! Ha HA! AHA!

Timeline

Nine Months to One Year Ahead

  • Ascertain the free times of the artist who will be leading your event.
  • Recruit a team of friends, helpers, and associates who will be accountable to you. Divide up tasks and set up times for completion.
  • Research and locate the ideal place to house your event with the help of your team.
  • Confirm dates and times with the artist and the location’s Events Coordinator.
  • Create an initial budget.
  • Research local organizations and professional associations whose membership might have a natural interest in attending the event, such as associations of music educators, school music departments, community music schools, and local arts councils.

Six Months Ahead

  • Compile a list of media deadlines for newspapers, magazines and radio programs. Your local United Way office may be able to provide you with a comprehensive media directory or tell you where to get one.
  • Request the promotional materials that are appropriate for your particular needs and deadlines. These might include the artist’s photos, tapes, or CD’s for airplay on radio, a generic PSA write-up, a generic workshop description, a promotional video, and copies of recent reviews or media interviews.
  • Get your promotional materials in by deadline! Warm, personal interaction can’t be beat when it comes to getting your story into print. Follow up the initial contact with a phone call to be sure that the listing or story will, in fact, be published. Be sure to send copies to the Music for People office and save some for your scrapbook.

Three Months Ahead

  • MfP can provide you with labels from our database if your provide us with zip codes. We’ll send labels for people who live within a 2-3 hour drive of the workshop location. For certain areas of the country (urban east coast), we may have more names that you wish to mail to, so let us know if there is a limit to the number of labels you want. For other areas of the country (some central and southern states), we’ll have fewer names. Give us at least two weeks to print labels.
  • Create the artwork for your fliers and distribute. Proofread it meticulously before duplicating and mailing.
  • Mail the fliers. The actual date of mailing is going to be determined by whether or not you are providing any early registration incentives. In general, the flier should arrive 4 weeks before the registration deadline. Be sure to allow adequate time for the mail to be delivered, whether bulk-which can take up to 2 weeks-or first class.

Six to Eight Weeks Ahead

  • Registrations begin to come in. Each registrant should receive a simple confirmation giving them any information that wasn’t already on the flier. Usually a person’s check can be their receipt, but have a receipt book on hand (and bring to the registration table at the event) for those who request a written receipt.
  • Make sure the answering machine at the contact phone has an appropriate outgoing message. (“If you’re calling about the Music for People workshop on ___, the cost is ___, and you can register by ___.”)

One Month Ahead

  • Confirm the artist’s travel and accommodation arrangements. If the artist is flying in, you may need to line up one other volunteer and a van or station wagon to go with you to the airport.

One Week Ahead

  • Reconfirm times and dates with the location.
  • Reconfirm travel arrangements, and make sure the teacher has directions to the location.
  • Make sure you have enough team help to handle physical tasks like moving chairs, carrying in workshop equipment, and setting up snacks, as well as break down and clean up after the event is over. It’s best to write up a timeline and list of tasks for everyone so there is no confusion.
  • Identify a volunteer to sell CDs and tapes at the event, if you choose to provide this service.
  • Participants always want a list of each other’s names and addresses so they can get together later on, and you should plan on providing this for them at the workshop. Duplicate the list at the very last possible moment-during the workshop, if possible-as there are always last minute registrants.

The Big Day

  • Very important: Get up early and have a leisurely breakfast. Breathe. Find your center, and if you feel yourself getting nervous or anxious about how everything will go, know this: Everything’s perfect. Keep returning to your center. Keep breathing!
  • Put up a sign-up sheet for last minute names and addresses.
  • Let your volunteers do their jobs, and tell them how much you appreciate them.
  • Make sure the artist has what he or she needs, and keep water, juice, or coffee nearby for them.
  • Display MfP fliers that have been sent.
  • Duplicate the final participant list and make available to all.

Within A Week

  • Send thank-you’s to volunteers and sponsors.
  • Send payment to the artist as per your contract.
  • Send a copy of the participants to the MfP office.
  • Return unsold CDs to the MfP office.
  • Send originals of reviews or stories that were printed to the MfP office.

Celebrate!