Ottawa Dancers’ Blogletter – 2018/03/20

Dancing for Good Causes and Supporting Community Events

Throughout the year, there will be workshops and shows that happen outside of the dance classes.  Sometimes they will fit within your schedule and budget and sometimes they won’t.  Without your support and participation, when you can, these events can get cancelled and/or the organizer is out of their personal pocket to cover costs. This blogletter is going to focus on the general overview of what it takes to organize and run dancing for causes, shows and workshops.

Community Events – Dancing for Causes

There are two events coming up, the Shimmy Mob and the Ottawa Belly Dance Show.  Both are raising money for great causes; women’s shelters and victims of abuse and/or violence.  The first event, the Shimmy Mob, has been around for several years now and has had it’s controversies as to whether or not the creator is actually getting paid to run the event, so perhaps, not all the money is going to the charity.  Many people chose to boycott participating in the Shimmy Mob because they personally believed that a charity’s organizer should be doing everything for free.  Hmm…well, I believe other, larger charities are taking a lot more off the top than the organizer of the Shimmy Mob.  If I’m not mistaken after the registration fee any other money that is raised stays in that community and doesn’t travel back to the organizer of the Shimmy Mob.  Now, keep in mind, that the organizer of the Shimmy Mob also has to pay for the website and spend time and probably some more money to get the t-shirts made and shipped out, so any profits they may get are put into items that benefit the participants.  Then there is the cost of local organizers to rent out dance space to gather everyone to practice; they either pay it out of their own pockets or everyone chips in for the room rental.  Regardless of the details of the finances and time it takes to organize this event, this charity raises awareness for women’s issues, brings dancers together to make a difference, no matter how small it may seem, to their community.

The second event is the Ottawa Belly Dance Show, which is run by Niki Theo of Corazon.  Is this the first belly dance event in Ottawa where all the proceeds go to a local charity?  No.  There use to be a Belly Dance showcase that was held most often at the Glebe Community Centre and then briefly at the RA Centre.  Then there was a show, that I personally hosted in 2011 that raised money for the cancer research.  Here is what typically happens, behind the scenes, to get a show running to give all the money to charity.  The first expense is to pay for a venue, if you’re lucky you might be able to find a location that will have audio-visual (AV) included in the price for just shy of $1000 for 6 hours maximum.  The second expense is to pay for a videographer, if you want to record the moment which is another $700-800 if they have a charity price; trust me they can be a lot more.  Advertising, these days can be affordable if you stick to doing it mostly yourself and reach out through social media.  Radio and/or Daytime shows sometimes will extend their help and put you on air for about 5 minutes.  Also if you’re lucky you might be able to have sponsor put in some money to help cover some of that overhead cost mentioned above, however most of the tickets sales are the bulk of what helps pay for the event to even happen.  $10 for a show is still a great deal for supporting a local cause, and you get to support your fellows dancers and even perform yourself, should you choose to.

Community Events – Workshops, Souks/Bazaars, and Non-charity Shows/Haflas

Workshops, Souks and non-charity shows are community events are often where the organizer is trying to make a profit.  How much profit?  Well that depends on the organizer’s personal goals and/or reasons for wanting to make a profit.  For all events, there is always the cost of a room rental; and for anything that is not a charity the prices range on the venue location, the duration and date of the event.  For non-charity shows/haflas, if there is a visiting instructor and/or professional dancer coming to perform, there is addition cost of paying said dancer.  To clarify, the “professional dancer,” in this scenario is a person whose day job is being a professional dancer or they rely on that income to live.  For workshops, where the instructor is not the organizer themselves, they have to cover the cost of the instructor (payment of the instructor and any food and travel arrangements to and from the workshop space).  A minimum cost of hosting an instructor, not including travel, lodging and food, starts in the range of $1500-2500 for 8+ hours of instruction.  Sounds like a lot?  The instructors are often spending hours before the workshop planning and practicing what they’re going to teach, to ensure the participants are going to get their money’s worth.  Now some organizers, who like to be budget friendly can approach organizing a workshop in a couple ways.  One way is to offer the workshop at budget friendly price, which covers costs with a small profit.  The other way is price it where cost will cover everything but with little to no profit to the organizer; often this is done when the organizer just wants to learn from that particular instructor but wants to share the person with their fellow dancers.  Now, if your the instructor yourself, then costs of the workshop will usually be much cheaper than a instructor you host, but the motivations of how much profit remains a personal one.  If you have very strong opinions as to what people should charge for workshops and you’ve never hosted or ran a workshop please take into consideration the time and costs it takes to host and organize a workshop.  You have the choice to still support and encourage more workshops and/or like the ones that being offered, but I do hope you try and encourage more workshops to come to Ottawa.  It will save travel costs, not only for you but your fellow dancers who may want to travel to learn from teachers, but live on a tight budget.  Most often, the workshop is organized in bringing someone to widen our dance knowledge and experience and really just to have fun.

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