Charity Concert Guidelines
If you have not organised a WMVC Concert for your organisation before, please see the following guidelines.
A SUCCESSFUL CONCERT
A successful concert is one where:
1 - You the charity organisers make lots of money for your charity
2. - The audience has a great time, is eager for more and wants to support your future events
3. - The choir also enjoys the event.
The guidelines below are based on our extensive and recent experience singing for over a dozen charities every year and are strong recommendations. We know what works and what does not work!
TIMING AND LOCATION
We try to spread our concert performances as evenly as possible throughout the year. In particular we perform quite a lot in Weybridge and have to be careful to avoid planning concerts too close together there. Bearing that in mind we especially welcome bookings elsewhere in Elmbridge and in other areas such as Kingston, Teddington, Staines, Chertsey, Woking, Leatherhead, Guildford, Dorking - and beyond!
There are many interlinked and sometimes conflicting factors which come into play when organising a fund-raising concert. The overriding one is, of course, finance, i.e. balancing the cost of staging the event against the income from ticket sales and any other associated sources (raffle, sale of refreshments, etc.) in order to finish up with a worthwhile surplus to swell the fund-raising coffers.
The main cost components will be:
Publicity (including printing of posters, flyers and tickets)
Donation to the choir (currently we ask for a minimum of £170)
Other possible ancillary costs (refreshments, raffle prizes etc)
Other considerations will be likely audience size - how many tickets can I reasonably expect to sell, and at what price in order to achieve the targeted surplus.
The ideal venue for a choral concert, of course, would be a high-ceilinged , un-curtained and un-carpeted hall to provide a splendidly ‘live’ acoustic, with a raised, tiered performance platform for a choir of 40 -50 singers so that the audience can see them all and they can all see their conductor; comfortable seats for the audience; a foyer area for ticket sales/collection and sale or distribution of fund-raising material; an adjacent assembly and changing area for the choir; separate refreshment and toilet facilities for choir and audience and adequate parking for all!
In reality these high ideals are unlikely to be achieved with the choice of public venues available for most local fund-raising concerts. However, it is helpful to bear them in mind when thinking about a venue for your event. The choice is often between public, school or church halls, or churches themselves. Most halls tend to have a flat, relatively low ceiling (although there are notable exceptions) which results in a rather dead choral sound, and a curtained ‘proscenium arch’ style stage which, unless large enough to accommodate tiered staging, tends to restrict the projection of the music – and makes it very hard work for the choir!
The choir possesses its own portable digital piano keyboard with amplifier and speakers if there is no suitable piano available for our accompanist at the venue. All we require is a 13-amp. power socket. We also have our own portable tiered staging for use in 'flat-floor' halls where there is none, or where there is only a flat stage with a proscenium arch (not the best position acoustically from which to sing). Our Stage Manager will need to visit your venue if we have not sung there before, in order to assess and agree with you and the venue manager staging requirements, parking, access for our equipment van and so forth.
The choir will also need a separate room or area in which to assemble and line up at the start of the concert and during the interval. Liquid refreshment for choir members during the interval is always greatly appreciated!
A NOTE ABOUT PERFORMING RIGHTS
The choir’s repertoire includes many items which are still within copyright and for which royalties are payable whenever they are performed publicly (during the lifetime of the composer / arranger and for 70 years after their death). Royalties are collected by PRS for Music (formerly the Performing Right Society) on an agency basis and distributed to the composers/arrangers concerned. In the case of concerts the collection of royalties is usually done by PRS granting a licence to a concert venue. There are two main types of licence, depending on the type of venue and the frequency of concerts performed there:
(1) Concert halls, theatres etc. with Box Office facilities for the sale of tickets, who regularly stage concerts and recitals. These are charged a percentage (usually 3-4%) of ticket sales for each event and are required to submit programme details so that PRS can assign and distribute royalties accordingly. If you hire such a venue for your concert it will usually pass such a charge on to you and will request a copy of our programme details, which we are happy to provide.
(2) Smaller Local Authority and other halls and leisure centres, churches and church halls who occasionally hire out their facilities for concerts will pay a fixed annual licence fee, the proportionate cost of which will be included in the venue hire charge which you will pay. No precise programme details are required; PRS for Music assess royalty payments in respect of all such venues on a sampling basis. Most venues in which we perform are licensed in this way. in which case nothing further is required on your part.
As promoter of a concert you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that a PRS licence is in place. If you are in any doubt as to whether your chosen venue is licensed, do check with them. If you require any more assistance or advice please get in touch with our Concert Secretary.
3RD PARTY LIABILITY INSURANCE
The choir is covered for 3rd Party Liability through its membership of Making Music (The National Federation of Music Societies).
Ticket price will need to be determined by the size and quality of the venue, likely achievable audience size, whether any refreshments are included, the total costs to be covered and the target surplus to be achieved.
For most of our concerts the ticket price usually lies between £7.50 and £15. At the top of the scale there is the option of a concessionary price for ‘senior citizens’, as long as these will not form too large a proportion of the total audience!
PRE-CONCERT PUBLICITY - GETTING A GOOD AUDIENCE
1. A successful concert needs 3 months planning to be a real success. Don’t try to rush.
2. Think about your target audience.
3. Selling tickets for the concert is the responsibility of the charity. Decide early who the contacts are for ticket sales. You must have a named individual and contact details; an online booking service is sometimes helpful but it is not by itself adequate.
4. Undertaking adequate publicity is the responsibility of the charity. Advise WMVC as soon as you can the contact details of the person responsible for your publicity for this specific event.
5. Start planning sales and publicity early, at least 2 months before the concert and preferably 3 months earlier.
6. Posters, flyers and other publicity must emphasise the concert and the choir, not just the charity. Preferably they should include the WMVC logo. Include date time location and ticketing details.
7. If the concert is in a church, make sure you publicise it specifically to the congregation in that church. This means:
• Making sure you have the right contacts in the church
• Knowing how soon you need to get copy in to them
• A Poster in the church entrance
• Article in the monthly church magazine
• Entry in the weekly Parish Diary for the 2 weeks preceding the concert
8. Get an entry into your What’s on section of your local equivalent of The Weybridge Flyer or Essential Esher (see http://www.surreyhillspublishing.co.uk/ )
9. If you can afford it, also put an article into this magazine. The article should focus on the concert.
10. Get posters displayed widely in your local community. This includes all churches, some pubs, libraries and local (not chain) shops.
11. Get your supporters to put flyers onto their car windows.
12. If your concert is in Elmbridge, the WMVC will try to help with
• An entry in the listings in Elbridge Arts Focus, Surrey Advertiser Group 'What's On', etc. where possible
• Getting flyers shown in council notice-boards where possible.
• Publicising the concert on our website.
13. WMVC can help you with words and photos about the choir.
Where posters are being displayed or flyers handed out make sure that you have any necessary permission to do so.
The choir has its own mailing list of registered supporters (currently about 250) to whom we send a list of forthcoming concerts around three times a year.
Let us know in good time if you are planning to produce a printed programme for sale or distribution at the concert, so that we can provide you with whatever choir-related content you need. If this includes details of what we will be singing we will do our best to provide this, but the programme is always subject to possible change on the night!
Tickets should be available for sale as soon as publicity commences. Make sure that the venue (including postcode), date, time and admission price are all included on the tickets. They should be printed on card preferably, and of reasonable size – no more than eight to an A4 sheet before cutting – to prevent them being mislaid before the event once sold and also to allow for easier handling at the door on the night!
You should aim to sell (and receive payment for!) as many tickets in advance as possible so that you have a reasonable idea of committed audience size before the night. Unless you are hiring a venue with an advance Box Office facility (in which case you will probably be charged commission on sales, plus the PRS fee – see above) the best method of sale is by face-to-face transaction, e.g. in a shop or at your organisation’s normal meeting place if you have one. If your only possible avenue of sale is by telephone or surface mail/email order, remember to budget for the cost of posting out purchased tickets. Alternatively you could leave them for collection on the door on the night, provided this does not over-complicate the task of your front-of-house personnel. Incidentally, don’t forget to give them a reasonable ‘float’ of change for tickets sold to ‘on spec’ customers on the night, especially if the ticket price is not a multiple of £5.
CONCERT FORMAT DETAILS
Unless otherwise agreed, the following will usually apply;
1. WMVC will provide the Master of Ceremonies (MC)
2. The MC will run the concert
3. The choir will sing 16 pieces in 2 halves separated by an interval.
4. Within each half, there will be a guest or solo spot by performers chosen by the choir, or (by agreement) supplied by the charity. In the latter case you will be asked to discuss this with our Musical Director. If your soloists require accompaniment from our Accompanist he must be provided with the music at least six weeks before the concert. Each guest spot should be of 12 - 14 minutes duration.
5. The interval should not last longer than 20 minutes. Its purpose primarily is to provide a comfort break for choir and audience. If refreshments are to be served in the interval rather than at the end of the concert sufficient arrangements should be made to ensure this timescale.
6. If you particularly want to include a Raffle please make sure that does not take too long and detract from everyone’s enjoyment of the concert itself. The winning numbers should be drawn during the interval and affixed to prizes to be collected at the end of the concert. The numbers can simply be read out either immediately after the interval or just before the end of the concert.
7. As an alternative to a raffle for adding to the financial success of the concert, a bucket collection as the audience leaves at the end can be very productive. You may need to get your venue’s permission for this.
8. There will be a spot just before the end of the concert where the organiser from the charity can speak for 3 minutes. The speech should be short, punchy, enthusiastic and informative. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the charity’s successes and to get the audience to dig in their wallets for notes to put in the collection buckets. A good concert where everyone is leaving on a high can raise a lot of money at this point.
We hope that you find the above points useful. Your choir contacts for further information are: