Both Montreal and Ottawa have seen lower attendance this fall and we
got word that it's similar in Brooklyn. Are any other local dances seeing
this too? Any idea what might be causing this? Since it happens to both
Canadian and American cities I doubt it's the political climate.
I've been booking performers for dances for many years and just recently encountered, for the first time, an expectation that the caller (booked separately) be paid the same amount as each band member. Is this a new thing? What's the practice in YOUR community?
In respose to Katy Heine's question:
The Rochester NY weekly Thursday dance has a set rate for callers and bands, and we add a set travel honorarium for "Regional" and "Far" travel of $40 and $80.
(special arrangements are made on occasion) There is a profit sharing after we cover expenses, so if the band and/or caller are drawing more people, they get more money. Break even is somewhere between 45-55 dancers.
When we drafted this policy we considered that unless the band and caller are touring together, the caller generally has no say in how many folks are in the band they are paired with. (Of course they can decline the gig, but that's not really a "SAY") Our policy makes it so that regardless if the band has 2, 3 or 4 members, the caller gets paid the same. It seems to work for us. Your mileage may vary.
The rationale is that the caller is doing the same job the whole night regardless of the number of musicians.
If a band has more members, they can share the work...drop out for a time or two through the tune, so a set fee is practical.
They are also probably carpooling, so the travel cost is less per person. Airfare or Busfare is one of the reasons for exceptions to the standard rate.
Another reason for exception is a BIG name band, and a third reason is a touring Band+Caller pairing.
We have been able to schedule touring bands from "FAR" in conjunction with other regional dances,
so the traveling musicians are really traveling similar distance as a regional band to our particular dance, and this helps the travel honorarium cover actual expenses.
They also are offered hospitality at the home of a dancer on the evening of the dance (and sometimes the day before or after).
The policy does make it challenging to book larger bands, but we are now at the point with attendance that we are consistently paying slightly above the guarantee,
generally about 55-60 dancers per evening. Highly weather dependent, and it is a weeknight dance so...we think that is ok...always want more!
That said, we have had requests for equal pay for Band members and caller for larger events in the past, but not for the weekly dance series.
Those larger events are waaay less frequent and the negotiation is not a burden.