[Callers] dance in transition

Alan Winston - SSRL Central Computing winston at slac.stanford.edu
Wed Mar 5 16:17:24 PST 2008


Gale wrote:

> Dance venue in transition Qs?

> Just curious as to longevity of dance series.

> How do you handle organizer burnout?

> I know an organizer who has been at it for 12 years and wishes to turn
> the series

> over to a new 'generation'.

> How do you generate support and bring new people in to the organization
> of dances?

>  (dancers scatter when there is mention of organizing!)

> There is a small loyal group of dancers. The problem is no one wishes to
> take up the duties of organizer. This is compounded by the fact that the
> main organizer needs to
> be a resident of the town where the dance is held. (I do what I can. I
> organized a dance and found it was not my calling. esp. as the sole
> organizer, dancers want to dance not organize!)

Reframe.  

You're not looking for an individual to whom the organizer can hand the robe
and sceptre; you're looking to (a) get a certain minimum set of duties done and
(b) develop a broader sense of ownership of the dance so that people feel
motivated to help get the duties done (and possibly expand the stuff that gets
done).

One of those duties is to be the resident interface to the town, but that
person probably doesn't actually have to be the person who books the staff,
sweeps the floor, and bakes the cookies (if any).

People are wary of open-ended commitments, so "could you be the organizer of a
dance series" is a scary question.  "Could you bring refreshments in
even-numbered months?" is a much less scary kind of question.

I'd suggest that you announce at a dance (maybe two dances) that at date X in
the future, so-and-so plans to retire from running the dance, and that at
(well-defined date and location well before that time) there'll be a meeting
for those interested in having the dance continue to discuss what to do about
it.

You do need somebody to host that meeting and somebody to facilitate/lead it
and it would be helpful if the organizer could, beforehand,  make a list of the
stuff that he or she does for the series.

If there's nobody willing to even come to a meeting, then the dance series
doesn't have enough dancer commitment to function, and it'll have to die when
the organizer retires.  If you get some people, you can start discussing what
needs to happen and who can do it, and possibly extract commitments either to
do those things or to recruit people to do those things.  If nobody's willing
to make even the commitments necessary to keep the dance functioning, then it
has to shut down.  Maybe they'll miss it enough when it's gone to start it up
again.

I don't have an answer if you've got enough volunteers to keep it going and
nobody fulfills the residency requirement, except to ask the current organizer
to keep functioning in the reduced-obligation role of resident interface to the
town.

-- Alan

-- 
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 Alan Winston --- WINSTON at SSRL.SLAC.STANFORD.EDU
 Disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not SLAC or SSRL   Phone:  650/926-3056
 Paper mail to: SSRL -- SLAC BIN 99, 2575 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park CA   94025
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