Organising a Concert
If you have not organised a concert for your organisation before, you may find the following comments and tips useful.
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! We will help you with publicity if you wish. For the latest news on booking opportunities keep an eye on notices on our home page and in the 'Concert News' section of this website.
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 £150)
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!
Minimum requirements are:
Audience capacity of at least 100
Adequate platform / staging area to accommodate 40 -50 singers, with space for conductor’s podium and piano. In the case of a hall with a proscenium arched stage as described above we prefer to erect our own tiered staging in front of it, which can have a bearing on audience seating numbers.
A separate room or hall for 40 – 50 choir members to assemble and line up
Adjacent access for our van for unloading and loading equipment
Adjacent or nearby parking for choir cars (or coach if the venue is outside a radius of 20 miles from Weybridge).
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. There has been some publicity recently regarding PRS tightening up on this requirement in order to protect the rights of composers and arrangers to their royalties, so as promoters of a concert you need to be aware of the situation regarding this.
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! Where your organisation is a well-known charity in the area a retiring collection is often a worthwhile supplement to ticket sales.
The promotion and publicising of your concert is your responsibility but we may be able to provide some help. The size of the task will depend on whether the targeted audience is mainly registered or known supporters of your organisation (in which case you may well have a newsletter and other communication channels already available), or whether you are mainly aiming at the general public, in which case you will need to produce posters and flyers and notify the local media of the event. We are happy to provide you with our logo, photographs and other publicity material to help you in this. We recommend that posters are eye-catching and ‘uncluttered’, with just the basic information - choir name, your name, date, time, venue (including post code for satnav purposes!), ticket price and source - prominently displayed. We can provide you with a 'template' and / or advise on design.
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. We also have our own website here and for events in and around the Weybridge area we also use the local information website www.allaboutweybridge.co.uk. If your event is open to the general public we will include it in these outlets.
Publicity material should be available at least four weeks before the concert, preferably earlier.
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.