Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

Over the next few days, I hope to have an in depth discussion with Rivka and the wonderful people at The Folk Project in Rockaway, NJ. This organization has been holding "House Concerts" for nineteen years. When I think about the times that I have struggled to get a concert, organize a venue, all the roadblocks, the financial struggles, the permits and all that other stuff. I am stunned and amazed that right under my nose was not only a venue but a very cooperative landlord, not to mention inexpensive resourse for continued income.

Lou and I have been talking about how we might do it. I know lots of storytellers, and musicians, I am certain they would love to have a venue date(s) pre-scheduled for the year. Now how often should we do it, how to promote, how to price the seats, how to make certain I can make the payroll?

All of this and more... first and foremost, I am going to check City and County regulations, State laws and finally have a talk with my Tax Accountant.

Write a plan, write a budget and then see if any of the Storytellers, artists, musicians, and poets I know might want to play.

First things first what does success look like?

Second things... is it sustainable?

Third, will it work in my community? Why and why not?

Finally, what will be the flavor of the program?

Obviously there has got to be a lot more to it than this simple little list. But, I know one thing for sure. If we wanted to start a national movement and force the world to notice. Grassroots is the place to start. My imagination is working overtime thinking about all the coffeehouse concerts I did in the sixties and seventies. My guitar, a stool and a story.

Hmmm, by the way, if you ever get to visit New Jersey. Make sure you visit Rivka & Simcha Willick and their precious family. What a wonderful neighborhood.

Tags: Buck, Concerts, Creacy, Grassroots, House, P, Rivka, Storyteller, Storytelling, Willick

Views: 42

Replies to This Discussion

Humm... sounds very interesting and do-able. Keep us informed on the progress.
I think storytellers looking at ways small concerts are being done is really smart. The house concerts allow communities to take chances they may otherwise not take. And it doesn't have to be just "the storytelling community" Different businesses or community groups could hold house concerts as fund raisers, allowing for more FUNDS being RAISED since the venue could be donated. The Folk Project in NJ uses house concerts to bring in performers who might be a little risker or might draw a smaller crowd. Story telling is still new for the Folk Project so house concerts are good places to start bringing in individual tellers.

The person who donates the house doesn't have to do it all. If there is a group or committee, one person can offer hospitality, several people can donate home made refreshments (this often can not be done in many formal venues due to individual communities health codes) and a portion of ticket sales can be put aside for clean up or to purchase chairs, coffee urn, mic, etc for future concerts.

The one down side of house concerts is getting the word out. Many people may not be use to going to an event in a residential area. If you can do the concerts with one or more organizations, that will help. If the home owner is well connected, sometimes that helps bring in friends. Also, make sure there is enough parking, you don't want to tick off the neighbors or your patrons.

The performer can be paid a minimun with a house cut. Lets say they agree to $200 minimum plus a 70 - 30 cut after expenses. This makes it safer for the hosts, reducing the possible loss, but if the performer can draw people and fill the house his/her take may be larger then normal. It again allow the group to bring in new art forms, new artists and take chances.
I did an open mic where a lot of Bluegrass players had congregated in the fall. They were announcing dates for some house concerts I want to get back there they really seemed to enjoy my stories. They all do 2 pieces of music so I did 2 stories of similar length and a small intro. I was their first spoken word performer and they were happy to have expansion. They also have a feature guest each night who does a set, maybe 6 pieces. It was a nice format and sponsored by a music studio and held in a Knights of Columbus hall. The knights sold food and coffee to make some money for themselves. I was intrigued by the house concert idea and would like to pursue it. I am thinking of what houses in town would fit an audience and then how we might connect. I would love to hear more details on the cost per ticket, length of show, mic or no mic, advertising? as a social benefit to a group/ what cut for them. If anyone wants to discuss more details I'm listening. Carol
Carol,
Was the group of Bluegrass players informal or a formal organization? If they are a formal group, maybe a non profit, they might have a board. If so you might be interested in seeing if they'd like a storyteller on the board. The more storytellers expand out of the very small stream we swim in, the more opportunites is appear. Rivka
Good idea , joining the board of a performance group, I think they were informal but possibly not. I havent been back as life here has been to complicated for even working. When it clears a little I have so much catching up to do. This is a nice break and I am in here doing a little catching up. I know of several great houses for this idea, could easily seat 25 and a couple as many as 50 if we were creative. I did give all the m,usicians my card hoping it would pop up later in time. The music studio was very appreciative of my card and we have some students in common so they know where to find me and she got several cards to share. A New Years Eve house concerty would be cool - save that idea for next year.! I actually have read some of my old posts and had my memory refreshed on things I was doing before it got crazy, so I can come back in here take notes and pick up where I left off.
Here's an article about house concerts in TN. (Thanks to the Folk Project for finding the article.)
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/jan/04/music-in-the-house/
I'm finally getting my life back in order and trying to get back to the house concert idea. Anyone held one yet? I have sent postcards recently to several people in the area with larger roomier homes who might be enticed with the idea. I am also offering the first to sign up to host an extra set of stories. I have booked my own home to launch the idea. I plan on front porch gather if the weather cooperates and inside if raining. I figure I can seat 20 max and will sell tickets for $10.00. I will have cold drinks and light refreshments. I will make a flier to post as an attchemnt to emails and then put it out to my facebook list and see where it goes from there. June 12 is the date I chose as it is before school is out and families are still in town. I will use publisher to make tickets, or a program a friend recently used I have to ask about that yet. Then my mailing list will be emails and snail mail a few postcards, facebook and myspace and twitter and hope to sell the 20 tickets. I will also put up a flier at the local coffee shops. So here I go!
Good luck. Let me know how it goes. RW
So... how'd it go? It's been a year. Are you still rolling in luck?
I wouldnt say rolling in luck but in hard work. I moved from front porch to firepit and held several backyard events last summer. They went allright. Not as many as I hoped for but each one a convert to storytelling. The venue is perfect, the never ending smores a hit and streams of lemonade make a summer night perfect. Just getting ready to start promoting the first of this summer June 25 goin for the full moon too!

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