Annual memberships to dance groups

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Annual memberships to dance groups

Post  Sonia on Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:09 pm

Most of the dance groups I attend charge a per-session fee of $2-3 to cover room rent and equipment. I noticed that one group I visit occasionally (the Scandinavian group I mentioned earlier) has annual memberships for $40.

Thinking that this would save weekly hassle for regular dancers, I proposed a similar annual membership to the committee who runs the local International group. The idea went over like a lead balloon, with objections that it would be more work to keep track of the memberships, and lead to a division between annual members and other dancers, and besides things are working fine as they are. There was also a concern that it might lead to a decrease in income, although to me that's more a question of setting the membership cost appropriately.

Do any of you belong to groups with annual memberships? How is it working? What benefits and issues have you seen?

Sonia

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group with a minimal annual membership

Post  Jeremy Hull on Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:03 pm

Our club charges an annual membership fee of $5 plus a nightly drop-in fee of $4 for members and $5 for non-members. The effect of this is to encourage people to become members if they come more than a couple of times, and it also adds a bit to our income, while not being very expensive. We also have a low income drop-in fee of $3 per night. Our fee structure was set many years ago and we have updated it slightly over the years by raising the drop-in fee, and introducing the low-income. But with attendance of about 25-35 each week we are generating a surplus , given our minimal costs. The accumulating surplus gives us the freedom to hold workshops and keep them affordable, knowing we can afford to subsidize the cost. I would personally prefer to reduce our drop-in fee by $1, but others are reluctant to do this.

I know of other dance groups that charge an annual fee that covers all their classes for the year, and it seems to work fine for them. I've forgotten how much they charge, but I think it's on the order of $50 per year. In the case of our group I think the low annual fee plus drop-in fee is probably a good reflection of how we operate -- we're always welcoming to new members and enjoy it when people drop in, which they do regularly. But we are also a core of regulars who frequently socialize and have get-togethers apart from our dance nights. Each dance night is part class and part party. Other IFD clubs that I have visited seem to operate in much the same way. I think either approach to membership fees can work, as long as there is some flexibility to allow for the normal ebb and flow of members.

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Re: Annual memberships to dance groups

Post  Sonia on Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:13 pm

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for your response. It's good to learn about other fee models that are working well for people. May your group continue to prosper!

Sonia

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Memberships

Post  denismurf on Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:17 pm

Sounds like you have a good thing going up there, Jeremy. I'm beginning to wonder if a group's success depends, like, 95% on the personality and judgment of the leader and 5% on everything else.

Annual dues sound like a great idea to me. I remember that it was bandied about for a while when I was on the IFD board in St. Louis. The objections were plausible enough, but what I heard behind them was, "We've never done it that way, so why change?"

I'm pretty sure that groups with annual membership fees make it worthwhile by offering substantial discounts to members on high ticket events like workshops and visits by "renowned" Balkan bands.

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We've never done it that way

Post  Sonia on Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:49 pm

Yes, there was definitely an element of resistance to change in the responses I got.

Ironically, someone recently proposed "theme nights" (Israeli, Serbian, etc.) in this same International group, and my internal response was, "What we're doing is working. Why change?"

It's hard to know which changes will serve the group, which will chase people away, and which are needed long term even if they chase people away short term.

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change is fun

Post  Jeremy Hull on Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:32 pm

I may be straying from the topic here...

I feel that it's nice to have a variety of programming, different teachers, guest teachers, party nights, over the course of the year to keep people's interest up. When someone asks "what's happening this Friday" I don't like to say "same old same old." So I'm opportunistic and try to take advantage of visitors, personal connections. A couple of weeks ago we had a couple in to do a merengue demonstration and teaching session - this was a one-off that came about because one of our members goes to the gym run by one of the merengue dancers. People enjoyed it I think as a change of pace. A year ago my daughter-in-law who is an African dancer was visiting from Toronto and I got her to come in and teach us a couple of dances with the help of a local drummer. We're not going to master African dancing from a one-time session like this, but I find people enjoy getting a little taste of it to break up the usual repertoire of east European dances, etc. We have called on a variety of local guest teachers over the years, and sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. The guest teachers often need to make an adjustment because they are used to teaching in a different context - maybe they teach children within a given cultural/religious community or maybe they are used to choreographing for the stage. But sometimes it works well, it creates some interest and builds bridges between groups.

By the way, I notice that the International folk dancers in Toronto have periodic theme nights that they put on jointly with various cultural groups and it seems to work for them, at least as reported in the Ontario Folkdancer magazine.

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Theme nights

Post  Sonia on Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:22 pm

Thanks for your reply! I started a new thread with lots of questions in it.

Sonia

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Annual vs. nightly fee

Post  Dansingsal on Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:38 pm

Our club in Tulsa charges $5/person/year (June-May, don't ask me why) and a nightly fee of $2 for members or $3 for non-members. If a non-member comes back a second time, we invite him to join, as his membership fee would be paid off in only 5 visits. About half the time, this invitation is accepted.

We benefit from high numbers of members because our insurance rates are tied to membership.

Members get the benefit of the cheaper nightly fee, and their names go in the directory, and weekend workshops are $5 cheaper for club members than for non-members. Not huge benefits, but something. And of course, "belonging."

Happy dancing,
Sally

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