Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One Possible Solution to Some Problems

Reposted, with minor edits, from Iron Tongue of Midnight, where I wrote this in June:

Celeste Winant has written about the tendency of multiple choruses in the Bay area to perform on the same weekend, which happens at least three or four times a year. She is also trying to do something about it.

There are plenty of reasons for choruses to do some schedule coordination. We're all in competition for the same pool of free-lance musicians. We all want to sing in the same venues. Some choristers sing in multiple choruses. Choristers are also audience members, and we want to hear what other groups are doing. Hell, we're in competition for the same audience for choral music.

I think we might need something like the Gotham Early Music Scene to help out. This group plans to "help [early music groups in NYC] with marketing, ticket sales, merchandising and assembling the financial data required for grant applications."

Sheer genius: take this specialized work off the hands of small performing groups that don't have the time or infrastructure to do the best possible job with those tasks. Can we figure something out in the Bay Area to do this for choruses?


Celeste Winant said...

Something like Gotham would be incredible. While we have the San Francisco Early Music Society, their resources seem too stretched out to tackle this issue of umbrella management.

They do have an affiliates program whereby they provide insurance, legal counsel, and some limited publicity, but that is about it. They also offer the invitation to share in their non-profit tax-exempt status, if you qualify, but with recent changes governing non-profit affiliation, its unclear how much of a benefit this is. My understanding is that the affiliate group must already have non-profit status in order to qualify as an affiliate. Its all kind of murky.

(This topic alone merits a post of its own)

Regardless, SFEMS does not do much to help produce smaller group events. They can't, at the moment.

I believe that Gotham functions separately from the New York Early Music Society.

I believe that groups are non-communicative in part because of an ethos borrowed from the greater business world- somehow, communication will betray trade secrets, and thus will disadvantage said group in this competetive field. I think that this is bunk. Groups need to talk more; plain and simple.

Unknown said...

One potential solution is in the website which I run for the choruses in my region. It is a choral clearinghouse. The problem with it is getting the choruses to plan far enough ahead and post their data. I have 70 choruses listed. I'd go broke, both financially and time-wise if I were to try contacting them all. As you can see from the calendar, exactly the the condition you predict will occur on Dec 1/2 weekend this year. There are already 9 performances on Sunday and I know many are yet to come in for listing. Take a look, http://bhsinging.info I think the problems are far less attributable to a business mindset than to sheer amateurism -- and lack of strong leadership. Also, the weak groups/directors are scared that the strong ones will pirate their good singers -- which is somewhat true. Maybe they should take positive steps in improving their repertoire, selecting more attractive venues, and using modern advertizing techniques.

Celeste Winant said...

Thanks Dick- That's a very nice site!

I've tried throwing together a clearing-house, too (Bay Area Choral Schedule). I invited about 100 people to join, and about 20 people followed suit, but I have contributed over 90% of the entries after combing web-sites. The site has not gained traction. Part of it may be that I am not a recognized figure outside of the semi-professional/professional choral start-up world, so the more established (yet still vulnerable) groups dont think to take advantage of my resources.

I think that most groups are still in denial that conflicting concerts divides market share. Somehow, it wont affect _them_ because they are offering something _unique_.

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