Funding for Performances

Venues are often surprised to discover that professional children's musicians do not work for free and charge a respectable fee for their work. Children's musicians are contacted weekly to volunteer their time to perform benefit concerts for worthy causes. While children's musicians are some of the most kind-hearted and worthy-cause-oriented people around, the volume of these calls makes it impossible to accept them all, if any depending upon whether the musician makes his or her sole living from music.

Venues should expect to pay a fee beginning around $200 and going up into the thousands depending upon the experience, reputation, region and needs of the musician. In addition to a performance fee, musicians may also charge for travel, lodging, rental car, excess baggage fees for flights and per diem based on travel distance.

Keeping this in mind, there is help available. If the musician's fee is more than your budget, before asking the musician to volunteer or reduce his or her fee, consider several funding options.

1) Grants from city, county, state or federal agencies, arts councils and organizations.

2) Sponsorships from large corporations, local businesses, individual, hospitals and civic organizations. Usually sponsors will fund music programs in exchange for advertisement.

3) Parent-teacher organizations. Many schools have PTO's that have funds to pay for special programming for children.

4) "Friends" Organizations. Many libraries and non-profit foundations have "Friends of the Library" or "Friends of the Museum" organizations that raise money to fund special programming.

5) Fund-raisers or Raffles. Many schools and venues have fund-raisers to pay for special programs. Some venues raffle off the musician's CDs, books, DVDs or collections to partially or fully fund the performance.

6) Donations. One or more individuals and organizations may make a donation to the venue or the musician to fund the performance.

7) In-school field trips. With the cost of fuel and bus insurance, many schools have adopted in-school field trips. Like off-site field trips, on-site field trips are student funded through a nominal fee per student (often as little as $0.50 to $1 per child).

8) Patrons are individuals or groups that support arts programs and use the expense for the program as a tax deduction.

9) Cover charge. Many venues and musicians work together to share a percentage of the admission fee charged at the door of the venue. Usually an agreed upon amount of money is “guaranteed” to the musician as a base before any amount is collected at the door. If the cover charge collected exceeds the guarantee, the shared percentage applies to the excess funds. If the cover charge collected does not exceed the guarantee, only the guarantee applies to the musician.

Bringing the joy of music to children is worth the effort of finding the right funding source for your venue. There is ample funding available for programming. It just may take a little extra step to find it. The key is building a musician/venue relationship and working together to brainstorm ideas and make a plan of action to make the performance a huge success for everyone.

-Johnette Downing
Copyright 2003 & 2008 Johnette Downing

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