The following Production Tips are based on Algona, IA with a population of 6,000 and a venue that seats 600. These tips are designed to be a guideline in producing an event from start-to-finish. The tips are based on past experiences. Each event may differ. These Production Tips can be easily modified to fit any community.
“Who” is your audience?
What is your “hook?”
i. If you choose a non-profit organization as a benefactor for your event, notify them immediately.
1. Ask “permission.”
2. Develop a contact person for that organization so that they can advocate for the performance.
3. Keep the contact person informed of all promotional activities. An email address works great!
Notify your employees
Ask for volunteers
Be prepared to divide the duties into very specific tasks. This will not overwhelm any one person. (e.g. Will you be the head usher? Will you handle the cable TV message placements? Will you work with poster distibution? Will you transport the props to and from the event?)
Issue a news release with announcement of event; use photos whenever possible. Contact Nathan Countryman at Algona Upper Des Moines Newspaper. (515) 295-3535 x-230;Mason City Globe Gazette; The Fort Dodge Messenger–Dawn Thompson, Arts and Entertainment
Create a news distribution list.
i. Be sure that your server can handle outbound traffic when sending a mass email, especially with photos.
ii. Compress photos
Issue a news release announcing the availability of tickets or an “update” of sorts (tickets still available; ticket sales brisk; new ticket outlet announced or a bio on the artist)
Issue a post-performance news release citing the event’s success
Area service clubs:Get on the “list” for service club programming!
ii. Morwens Kiwanis
iii. Noon Kiwanis
iv. Lions Club
Clergy & Churches:
i. Develop a message for church calendars and church bulletins.
ii. Typically you can contact one church and ask their church secretary to pass along the info to the other churches. (Try First Lutheran 515.295.3758) Note that there may be a church or two that doesn’t belong/subscribe to the list so be sure to check “who” is on the list and develop any other associations that you might need.
Website:Use your supporting business’ website to publicize. Check with the Stinson Prairie Arts Council – Trudy Kattner 515.295.9455. Check with the Algona Chamber of Commerce office – Vicki Mallary 515.295.7201.
i. If you have contacts with large employers (City of Algona, Kossuth Regional Health Center, etc.) who are willing to place this information in their employee newsletter, bulletin board, etc. – Use them! This is a great low-cost way to get your message out.
ii. Other contacts: Chamber of Commerce,Economic Development Committee, Stinson Prairie Arts Council, Algona Country Club, etc. Use whatever contacts you have!
Cable TV messages:
1. MediaCom – (800) 332-0245
2. AMU (515) 295-3584
1. Algona Publishing
2. KLGA 515.295.2475
3. DM Sunday Register – IowaLife section: “Tops in Iowa – Cool Things to do this Week”, Compiled by Jim Beery 515.284.8539 or
4. FD Messenger has an arts person (see my media list)
5. MC Globe Gazette has an arts person (see my media list)
3. Distribute approx. 10 days out. They can get dirty and thrown in the garbage.
i. Posters (100):
1. This is money well-spent.
2. Choose an 8 ½ by 11 size. They are easiest to post.
3. Print the posters on heavier paper. They will withstand handling, moving around on bulletin boards, and generally have a longer “shelf life.” Again, money well-spent.
4. 100 is enough.
5. Depending on IF you are doing this for a non-profit organization, the RSVP Program at Iowa Lakes MAY distribute posters for you. Contact Donna Salz @ ILCC 515.295.8522. If you’re selling the tickets I would not even ask.
ii. Tickets (500):
1. Print a nice ticket, even if they are free. People can carry these in their wallets to serve as a reminder, or place on a bulletin board/calendar at home.
2. Consider printing both sides. Place a message on the reverse side to create awareness for whatever you’re doing. It’s cheap advertising.
3. Decide how you want to handle tickets – are they free? How are you collecting the money? Do you have any internal accounting issues with “selling” something?
iii. Print Advertising:
1. Start about 3 weeks prior, depending on the ticket situation
2. Make your ad worthy of the event in terms of size & appearance
3. The artist’s booking agent may have requirements or be able to provide photography, etc.
4. Ask for a press kit from the booking agency
iv. Radio Advertising:
1. This is your BEST buy
2. Start approximately 2 – 3 weeks out, depending on ticket situation
3. Talk to Bob Ketchum @ KLGA 515.295.2475.
v. Programs: (500)
1. Your event program is another form of advertising
2. Lightweight paper is fine.
3. Contact the booking agency for any copyright issues, stock photography, etc. Consult your publicity kit from the booking agency for general guidelines.
4. List people you need to thank – employees, community volunteers, sponsors, any businesses or organizations that might help you or provide service
vi. Table Tents (250):
1. Print 250 table tents for distribution in local restaurants/coffee shops
2. This is a great job (distribution) to designate to someone or a select few
Are you using private homes?
Are you using a hotel? Book early.
Think about hosting an informal get-together @ the night PRIOR to the performance. Arrange a catering service (approx. 25 – 30 people)
i. Invite members of the sponsoring organization.
ii. Invite any “volunteers” working with the performer – this might be select employees, community volunteers, etc.
A “potluck” is another option.
Look at the timetable that the performers will be in town. Your contract may provide for some “food” requirements on the day of the performance.
Consider hosting a meal for the performers.
i. Do you want to host a potluck?
ii. Do you want to host a catered event?
Provide gift baskets for the hotel rooms.
Some basket suggestions:
i. YMCA pass
ii. Town and area attraction info (See Chamber of Commerce)
iii. Bottled water
iv. Mini cans of soda
v. Iced Tea
How will the Artists get around town?
Do you have to provide transportation?
Limit attendance to those with direct tie to the event (NOT general public)
Local restaurant is ideal. Contact owner so he knows how many to plan for and “when.” Provide thank you note in program.
After the Event:
Write hand-written thank you notes to those who worked with you.
Hint: Address these beforehand so that you can get them out quickly
Always mail with a stamp – not your postage meter.
Issue a post-performance news release
Sometimes difficult to prepare in advance, but have a game plan.
Letter to Editor
Good way to thank the community
Check newspaper deadlines to be ahead of the game.
These are the duties associated with the actual performance venue, typically the Auditorium.
Solidify contract with booking agency
Solidify contract with Auditorium -- Be sure to reserve the Auditorium (or whatever venue you’re using) right away!
Technical rider: Attend to all of the details listed here for the production. If you can assign someone to handle these requirements, you may be ahead of the game. Or, you can split the duties and oversee them yourself.
Are you having any type of workshop for students?
Are you able to accommodate both all town school districts (public and parochial)?
Contacting the school --
Check with program head of the proper department (drama, vocal, instrumental, etc.) They will clarify with school principal.
You may have to rent a space from the school for the event in order to get it on the school’s calendar, especially if it is in the Auditorium. If it is somewhere else, ask your school contact about reserving the right “space.”
Payment for Artist:
Be sure to check with the treasurer of your sponsor.
Communicate with then about the contract requirements. Be sure to communicate the artist’s SSN and any other information.
How are you handling the seating?
i. Are you having reserved seating?
ii. What time will the doors open?
iii. Are you going to communicate that to the public?
Designate a “head usher.”
Establish a duty list
i. Consider what time you’ll open the doors to the Auditorium.
ii. Be sure that your contract with the Auditorium states the “right” time for the availability of the Auditorium.
iii. Communicate with the janitorial staff about “when” you want the building open, etc.
Provide ushers for each Auditorium entrance.
Ask your head usher to transport the programs, any promotional signage, etc.
Your contract may require someone to handle merchandise sales. This is something that the ushers may be able to handle, too.
Do you have to provide sound?
Do you have to provide a lighting technician(s)?
What are the stage requirements?
i. Is there anything going on in the Auditorium that conflicts with what you’re hosting? School or community plays that would have a set on stage?
i. Do you need a dressing room attendant?
ii. Can you lock the dressing room, if necessary?
What does the Artist require/stipulate in terms of announcements prior to the performance and after?
i. Does the artist want complimentary tickets?
ii. Do you have reserved seating?
Phone Contact List:
Develop a phone contact list that you can use the day of the event.
Include work, home & mobile numbers for anyone involved with the event. You never know when you may need to call them!
It’s “cheap” insurance and may save you some stress!