Friday, August 05, 2005

things in running a night

i keep getting told to add stuff here about me, my thoughts, my life,etc. and i day. but for now let's just talk about basic goings' on, shall we?

Now, if you own something, you run it.
If you run a night, that's ALL you do-run a night.
The catch? If you run a night like it is just a night, it will at best, keep its' head above water and at worst, die.
You must run a night like you OWN THE PLACE. Period.
This is where most poetry spots that are not actual POETRY SPOTS have problems.
Well, see that person over there in the corner, crunching numbers, telling people what to do, keeping a smile on their face in spite of this being their third 20-plus hour workday just THIS WEEK? That person? That would be your owner, aka your boss, aka your silent partner.
Now you want to go up to them and tell them the ice cubes smell funny tonite?
Go right ahead.

See, somewhere along the way you have presented this great idea about having a poetry night and it sounds really cool. You might even have these noble ideals that include the moral code of art being available to the public, how it improves community relations, makes the world a little nicer, a little smaller, a dash sweeter.

And them?
Well, before you cam around, they wouldn't have known a poet if one smacked them in the head with a haiku. Doesn't mean they don't LIKE poetry, just means they have other things to do. Like run a business. Now for some reason they have heard your idea and are willing to go for it.
Sounds great right?
Maybe, maybe not.

there are a TON a questions that should be asked before you even gt to this point but let's say you asked them all and they were all the right answers.
Do you know what will make you happy, in regards to body count (turnout), money spent (revenue), labor adherence (money outflow)?
Do you know what will make the owner happy in those same categories?
Do those numbers jive?
Almost never.

Things to say and do:
1-make sure they know that poetry nights are not a cash cow. unless you keep a hot crowd for about ten years or so, become a fixture of your city, AND get a little lucky, the night will make enough money to support itself, but not send the owners kid thru Princeton.

2-how long can you take a financial bath before the owner sees red? let them know that things like this take time so don't expect 100 people to walk thru the door and all spend 100 bucks. if it was that good, you wouldn't have been approaching them to begin with, now would you?

3-what their bottom line is. this just means what money must they see to be happy. make no mistake about it, unless you own the spot yourself, there is always a dollar amount that theywould like to see your event make. that nice old lady who sells day-old wedding cakes and lets you hold slams in her storefront window? Even she has a number in her head and if you don't match it after a while, you will find yourself trying to get in thru a locked door one night.

Things to ask yourself about doing it:
what is my budget?
how much do i charge?
how much are people willing to pay?
how long should the night be?
food? drink? alcohol?
is the lighting good?
is the sound good?
who will work my door?
who is my target audience?
why would they come here?
why wouldn't they?
is there good atmosphere?
open mic and/or slam?
do i advertise? to whom? how?
how long should the night be able to last in this space?
what is my time commitment each week?
do i need help/employees?
who is my target audience?
etc etc etc

and for each question there, i can think of two more.

i need kool-aid right about now.