Three Sides to Fill

Pardon me a little introspection. I feel like this needs that ‘Deep Thoughts‘ segment from ancient Saturday Night Live…if you don’t get SNL humor…

I’ve been laid up sick for almost a week now, but on the way to well. During this time, I’ve been thinking a lot about the three sides to having a successful in-person workshop; and they have nothing to do with art-making. The business side of things is such a quagmire. If you’ve ever thought about travel-teaching, this is for you.

Side 1: The Attendees – the pricing needs to reflect what the students are getting, learning, having access to work with so that they want to attend more events with the Venue and the Instructor.

Side 2: The Venue – the pricing needs to allow the Venue to have a SET piece of that pie. If you are proposing workshops and you don’t discuss this with your Venue, they might just add $20 to your workshop – and that reflects badly upon the Instructor, not the Venue, although it will affect everything the Venue is trying to accomplish as well, with less seats being filled. The curriculum also needs to support product that the store can sell to the Attendees. If I show and there is nothing to sell, they will find it somewhere else. That doesn’t help anybody have another event. So I am tending to use supplies from boutique companies that aren’t in the big-box stores.

Side 3: The Instructor – the pricing needs to allow the Instructor to buy the materials, assuming a FULL workshop of students; make the samples, possibly ship them seperately, as well as cover my travel expenses to, at and from the Venue. Just on a lark, let’s assume a $250 ticket (which would be a great fare to get), $89/night for a hotel room (just averaging), $100 for the weekend for a rental car. Oh, and airport parking back home at $30 a day. We are at $630.00 before even adding gas and meals. I don’t eat much.  Oh, and did I mention supplies for 50-75 workshop seats? Add that. It’s not like suppliers are gonna go all cray-cray handing out Net 30 terms to me all of the sudden. And I don’t expect them to.

Now how on earth does one accomplish that? Well, typically I ask for a guaranteed minimum number of seats, per workshop day and ask the venue to pay a deposit towards that commitment.

I have never had a problem with that arrangement. It keeps us on target, both with ‘skin in the game’ and knowing that we have to meet our comittments to make all sides benefit from the arrangements. The store owners I’ve met over the years are some of the strongest damn women in the world. They have made it through tough times and still have a smile on their face. I’m so excited to visit them again and see their wonderful stores and customers.

So when I hear from others, “Deposit?! Huh?

I think about friends whose workshops have been cancelled upon them last-minute for ‘low sign-ups’ or a scheduling conflict within weeks or even days of the event, with no hope of rescheduling the now vacant and precious day on the calendar… all in good faith. But no way to run a business.

My answer is, “Deposit. Duh.

If a store can’t commit to that, by golly, I want to know up-front. And so should you. Expect more for your business. Treat it like one.

To round things out, here is another three-sided wonder, which I recently purchased from a local art supply store that was closing. While it is great to have it, and I will use this thing like nobody’s business; it also makes me miss Koenig’s and wish Little Blondie and I could just make that quick run to the art shop together, whenever we felt like it for her projects for school. Wandering the aisles like kids in a candy store…

It will take more planning, and a longer drive, but we will continue and frequent other Connecticut stores.

I’ve nearly filled the first side, with Copic Various Reinkers.


Support your local stores, peeps.

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