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The House Concert

House concerts can provide a cost effective and intimate performance opportunity in your community. Artists can provide entertainment in return for lodging, meals and a smaller fee than may be required at a venue. House concerts can help fill spare dates in between engagements and provide travelling artists and companies with a place to stay and can be a great connection to local people in the community they find themselves in. Hosts can invite family, neighbors and friends together to enjoy meetings the artists, experiencing their work in an informal setting and can contribute to the artists fees - contributions can be pay what you can or set by the host.  In communities where performance venues are sparse, this can be a great idea to bring the community together for an informal cultural experience too.

 

Hosting a sucessful house concert - Basic Hints and Tips

1. Preparation is key
Prepare to welcome artists and guests to your home – ask questions in advance
Be sure everything works (from plug points to the doorbell)
Remove clutter and anything that could cause trips or other hazards (including pets)
Move furniture/pot plants and other items that can make better use of the space and fit everyone in
Think about, shop for and prepare any food, drinks, plates, pots, serving dishes, cutlery type items and ensure these are clean and ready for use
Plan for the artists to have a warm, clean area to change, wait or prepare – ask if there are specific requirements such as a mirror and stool, lights for grooming/make-up, full length mirror for example
Ensure you have co-ordinated all aspects of arrival and expectations of your guests/audience
 
2. Expect the unexpected
There may be last minute changes such as arrival time or transport method
The make-up of the company or group could alter – more people arrive than expected?
There may be unexpected requests to do with anything from food/drinks to space used, props stored or extra items to assist the artists(anything from mops, to tissues, face cloths to cd player, need some washing done– try to be accommodating wherever possible) artists are on tour and may not have everything with them or have access to certain home comforts whilst travelling
If you are hosting musicians they may need to tune their instrument, and require a space for this, which may need to be at a certain preferred temperature- spare rooms can be chilly remember to boost the heating
Think about lights/illumination – can you vary the lighting in your space to create performance feel – audience darker than performers. Can you create lighting that illuminates the performer’s faces?
Musicians and performers may need something to sit on whilst waiting/performing. This may be on the floor – so allow for a mat/floor rug for comfort/warmth
Provide water/drinks for your performers during their performance, if you can , allowing them easy access to this during the performance
Check if there will be a break/interval – audiences and artists alike may need the comfort break
Expect audiences and artists alike may want to use your wifi – if this is alright with you, have the code ready to pass on
After the performance audiences may like to stay – artists may want to go promptly, be prepared for both of these post show needs and adapt accordingly
 
3. Audience comfort
 
Plan you audience arrival well giving clear times, postcode, directions
Think about arrival time, parking, drinks, food, seating arrangements and any other special needs
Seating and sight lines – can everyone see well enough from where they are seated
Comfort – are your cushions, rugs, seats or other audience areas warm, comfortable and accessible for all
Consider parking, as everyone will arrive around the same time think about how and where they can park locally, stagger arrival times, plan for late comers, ensure audience and artists can have their own spaces at the beginning of the event if this is requested
Parking – if there are many cars arriving at once, try to encourage your audience to car pool, walk, arrive by public transport or give them several possible parking areas to spread the volume of parked cars in multiple areas 
In the case of late comers, have someone placed on the door in case the doorbell/knocking disturbs the performance (it is often best to explain to people to arrive before the performance start time and avoid being late)
 
4. Interruptions
Ensure ansa-phones, phones, and other noise making household items are in silent mode or off once the performance begins
Check alarms are not set and appliances do not beep (end of washing or drying cycles for example )
Once the performance begins ensure the doorbell cannot chime
Try to plan for any possible deliveries/unexpected visits by putting a do not disturb or other message on doors to avoid unexpected interruptions during the performance
Pets – ensure any pets are safely away if necessary to avoid barking or crying to get in , for food or other treats
Pets – check that your artists/audience members do not have any allergies/reactions to your pets in advance
 
5. Permissions
Check with artists and audiences in advance is recording or taking images of audiences/performers is alright with everyone. Get permission to take images, clips or interviews
There can be different levels of permissions; images, clips and sound recordings for websites, twitter, facebook , Instagram, press and personal use. If you plan to use any media after the performance ensure everyone gives permission. You can seek permission verbally, and/or in writing. Perhaps make an announcement on the evening at the start of the event, or gain permission in advance from attendees.
 
6. Thanks/Introducing/Speeches
Plan and read up in advance if you will be required to introduce, welcome or thank the artists or your guests, and prepare for this. Keep it brief and mention anything such as turning off phones, permissions regarding media, intervals, refreshments, facilities and so on.
If your house concert is generating income, then be sure to mention how audiences can pay or donate for their contribution 
Remember to thank your visiting artists and guests at the end of the performance
 
7. Legacy – Was the concert a one-off or might some of your audience like to host? Would you do it again? What happens next?
Know or ask if your visiting artists might like additional networks and connections locally that your audience can assist them with
Share contact details between audiences and artists (with their permission)
Log your audience, get their details for future house concerts
Evaluate – you can evaluate in many ways, to find out the reactions of everyone attending the event. This should be thought through in advance, so you don’t miss the opportunity.
Evaluation ideas – Post-it trees, Evaluation questionnaires, feedback sheets, write in comments books, postcard feedback 
Keep a tally of numbers attending, age group or other facts to assist both yourself, your artists and any other stakeholders with future house concert planning
 
8. Assisting after the performance
After the performance your artists may want to know anything from transport options, to local coffee shops, places to eat or tourist sightseeing options for the following day
Have to hand – information such as taxi numbers, directions to local landmarks or transport systems, be ready to use share your local knowledge
You may be asked to assist with clearing up, moving items, helping artists to their car, feeding your artists or putting the artists up overnight
Encourage interaction after the performance but be sensitive to artists who may be on a long tour, and who may need to eat or relax and be ready to step in and allow this to happen if audiences overstay
 
9. Costs, Money, Accommodation and Meals
Often the house concert is a cost effective way for artists to find accommodation and meals in return for a short performance. It is a two way transaction with the host. Be clear about what is on offer/expected. Remember that artist’s needs paid in addition to their accommodation, drinks and meals being provided wherever possible. The house concert is a way in which to keep overheads and costs down but of course there are costs (food/planning/drinks for example) and artists have performed to an audience so require payment. There are many ways to undertake this transaction, but all parties should be clear in advance. You could have the audience pay an agreed amount, you could pass round a hat, you can ask for donations, you can take a “pay what you can” approach, but try to ensure you know approximately what money you will take and what proportion the artists will get, and try not to leave anyone out of pocket
Think about payments from audience, and payment to artists and if this is by cheque, in cash, or by bank transfer 
 
10. Follow Up
After the event you may want to follow up, contact the press, put photographs on social media, contact the artists with feedback and keep in touch with your audience, ensure you plan for this in the days and weeks after your event
Your concert may have enthused others to host events, try to discover who from your audience may be future hosts, or advocates for the house concert or the particular artists you hosted, and share this knowledge
Thank yourself – it can be a lot of planning and thinking in advance to have a successful event in your home, but the house concert can be something you can appreciate and remember for a long time! Enjoy it!

 

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