It's that time of year when people start asking for free or low cost shows. These are always for good causes, "you'll get good exposure", but I weigh the cost in family time or in lost opportunities for other shows. It is like asking, "Can you take an unpaid day off of work to come and be with our group, that you aren't normally a part of?"
I guess I'll just say, "I cannot donate my time that day, or come at a reduced rate because I may be called to work somewhere else."
I disappointed a customer today. They wanted a cheaper show for kids from a shelter. So I cut my cost by $75. They checked with their local Elks Lodge and came up with $50 less than that, but I could set out a tips jar. I declined and gave them the name of a local performer. (They are 2 hours from me.) They got upset and said, "I thought it was all about the kids".
I find the cheaper you go the more they want to barter. (Which is also what it says in Rich Dad, Poor Dad.)
it's about the kids
October 18 2011, 5:33 PM
If that's what that individual really thought then why didn't they personally make up the difference?
re: the kids
October 19 2011, 6:15 AM
It's amazing when organizers get upset because a professional expects to get paid for the job they do. The ones I really dislike are the ones who haggle you down and then hire an additional act/performer for two or three times what you're getting.
October 19 2011, 9:00 AM
I now look at it as, "Can I be a cheerful giver?" If there is a cause that I can cheerfully go for free or a nicely reduced price then it is no problem. If the party mentioned above had been local I would have come for what they offered. But they are two hours away, so I couldn't do that cheerfully. I just wish the paid gigs would call as early as those who want a discount or free show. I used to say, "If you will advertise that Tony Borders' puppets will be there on your posters or ads I would be happy to come. Then when I got there I would see "Puppet show!" and nothing about my name.
I guess a person could decide at the beginning of the year how many free shows they will do. Then once that number is reached you can say, "I'm sorry, but I cannot come that day. However, if you want I can put you down for next year."
Re: Free shows
October 19 2011, 9:15 AM
When I get calls from charities now, I say truthfully I can only do a couple of charity shows a year and I have certain organizations I support every year. I wish them well with their cause.
It gives me the chance to decide if I want to do a low rate show (I only do freebies for a couple of charities close to my heart).
If they push, I tell them that the only thing I get from free shows is requests for more free shows.
free to perform
October 19 2011, 9:17 AM
There are two groups I have done free shows for. It is entirely my own choice, they don't hound me, they simply ask, fully realizing that I might say no. One pays me in cupcakes (my own request - preferably chocolate cake w/ vanilla icing). The other I ask for nothing, but last year after the show, they handed me a check. I didn't want to take it but they said someone had donated this money for the show.
There are lots of reasons that people ask for a donated show, many have no idea of what it takes to make a living as a performer. After years of simply refusing them, I don't get asked anymore and I can do the ones I really want to.
It still amazes me how some (like Tony mentioned) make you the bad guy if they don't get what they want. That's not right.
I like Tony's cheerful giver criterion - that works!
This message has been edited by PetraPuppets from IP address 18.104.22.168 on Oct 19, 2011 9:24 AM
October 19 2011, 4:41 PM
I do not like to do free shows, and I've only done a few in the last 4+ years.
I have done about 8 shows at very reduced prices though.
Whenever I do a free or reduced price show, I still bring what I consider to be a great show, which if I include my hands free Toucan puppet, amounts to about $8,000-$10,000 worth of magical props and equipment.
I don't think people realize what we spend on our shows.
re: free shows
October 19 2011, 7:54 PM
Sometimes we're so good they don't understand the work and expense we go through to give them a great show.