Teacher Tips - Hiring a Performer

Teacher Tips
Booking a Performer
By Johnette Downing

Often an educator is placed in the role of hiring a performer for their school assemblies or special events. Having the tools necessary to hire the right artist for your school or event can be a rewarding experience for the students, staff and performer. Below are a few tips to help educators hire artists:

Where to look?

Performing artists can be found in numerous places such as:
*State Artist Rosters coordinated by each State Division of the Arts
*Performing Artist Directories compiled by State Libraries
*Artist Rosters coordinated by State, City and Parish/County Arts Councils
*Independent organizations like Alternate Roots, National Storytelling Network, Artist Guilds, Children’s Music Network, Folk Alliance, SouthernArtistry Register, etc.
*Online artist directories, phone books, magazines and newspapers
*Performing artist showcases and live public performances
*Referrals from other artists, arts coordinators, educators and performance venues.

Who to hire?

*Hire a professional children’s artist for the job. You get what you pay for!
*Look at artist credentials, performance history, fees, programs offered, travel area, audience age, space requirements, availability, reviews, letters of recommendation, press clippings and demos.
*Attend artist showcases and public performances to ascertain the quality, genre and style of performers available in your area and select artists who best suit your needs.

How to book?

*Contact the artist and ask for their brochure or “promotional packet.” A brochure gives you a brief overview about the artist and their work. A promotional packet gives you a comprehensive outline and usually contains an artist biography, list of credentials, performance history, press clippings, reviews, photograph, business card, and demo audio or video.
*Discuss your particular performance needs in as much detail as possible (who, what, when, where, why and how).
*Discuss available dates and times
*Discuss artist fees
*Discuss artist’s technical requirements

What will I need from the artist?

*Contact name, address, phone, fax, email and website
*Booking confirmation letter, form or contract
*Audience size, audience age range, length and description of the program.
*Press release and photograph to publicize the event.

What will the artist need from me?

*Contact and school name, address, phone, fax, and email.
*Signed booking confirmation letter, form or contract
*Audience size and age range.
*Location of the performance (stage, gym, cafeteria, etc.).
*Access to the location 30-60 minutes prior to the performance.
*Directions and map to the school or venue.

Prior to the performance

*Inform staff and students that the artist is coming.
*Publicize the event with flyers and photographs. Invite the local media who are often looking for “good news” photos to put in the paper.
*Ask for artist study guides. Copy and distribute the guides to staff and students. Study guides offer pertinent information about the artist, their work and how the scheduled performance relates to the curriculum.
*Ask for order forms for artist’s products (CD’s, tapes, videos and books). Many educators preorder artist’s products and use them in the classroom to allow students to become familiar with the artist’s work prior to the performance.
*Contact the artist a week prior to the performance to re-confirm.
*Discuss audience etiquette with staff and students.

Day of the performance

*Make sure the performance space is clean and clear of debris and furniture.
*Make sure the artist has access to the space 30-60 minutes prior to performance.
*Be available or assign someone to direct the artist the performance space.
*Discuss the best seating arrangement with the artist for optimum audience viewing and enjoyment.
*Allow ample time prior to the performance to assemble the students in the performance space.
*Begin the performance on time.
*Introduce the artist.
*Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and enjoy the show!

Copyright 2003 Johnette Downing, www.johnettedowning.com
Article first published in the Spring 2003 Issue of Applause!

Johnette Downing

Johnette Downing is a multi-award winning musician, author, poet and educator.

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