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I’ve been working for the past couple of weeks on the Wicked Faire performance schedule, and it just went out the other night, and, as expected, I’m being buried in mail. I’d say about 65% of it is a very friendly “we got it, we’re good, thanks!”, which is great. Another 20% of it is “Hey, I hate to be a bother, but I’ve got an issue with thus and such.” This is also good. Communication is good. 10% of it is people being upset, but dealing with it fairly well. Then there’s the remaining 5%, which I can only really call hate mail.

I figured, in fairness to everyone who applied, and for the edification of anyone who is interested in how I approach my event programming, to explain where it is that I am coming from.
The first thing I do is break performers up into three categories. The first category is people who bring in so much business that they are worth the cost of bringing them. As a helpful hint, if you’re not Voltaire, you’re not in this category. The second category is people who I think bring value to the event. These are performers who I think are excellent and talented and unique. Again, as a hint, if you think that you’re the only person doing, say, erotic hypnosis, and write me an e-mail telling me about this unique and amazing thing, I will respond by telling you that we’ve had an amazing erotic hypnotist since our very first faire, and while we appreciate your e-mail, you should just fill out a performer application. On the other hand, if you write e-mails like Left Outlet, the performance team is going to look forward to all of your communiqués, and then find nice things to do for you when we can. The third and last category of performers we accept are folks who look cool, and we want to give them a chance to shine. We may not know them, we may have only what they’ve written, but everything starts somewhere, and we really want to be a place where lots of amazing acts get a break.

That said, no matter where you are in this pecking order, we can replace you with someone just as good, unless you are Voltaire. If you are not Voltaire, you can be replaced.
So the next question I usually get is along the lines of “If we’re performing for free, what do we cost you?” This is an excellent question, which I think speaks to the heart of the matter. Here’s a few things to think of. Every performer we accept is obviously getting free admission to the event. We have a cap on how many people we can have in the event, so every performer in there is someone who’s not paying admission. We also have a food budget, so every performer who comes in, I’ve allocated a certain amount of budget to feed them. There’s the time and energy it takes to create the schedule, which took, in addition to the three person performance team, a ton of volunteer work from a few very dedicated individuals who probably didn’t want to see me lose what was left of my sanity. Then there’s the cost of tech and such for most stages. There’s rental on the Wicked hotel. It costs us to use the space, and so the more space you take up, the larger the stage, etc, the more it costs us to have you on. The closer you get to prime time, the more the space is worth. This means that at the prime times, we’re putting on the bigger draws. This is why Voltaire gets Saturday night. This is why Wyck and Daniel Greenwolf go opposite Voltaire. They are all big draws and very talented performers. Also, there is the work and time and effort of our web people, our advertising people, etc.

Now we realize on the other side, artists have costs. In addition to simple transportation, lodging, etc, which sometimes we can cover, sometimes not, there are the costs of materials, instruments, etc, not to mention the time and effort it took them to develop their craft. We appreciate all of that, and since we’re not in a position to pay all, or even half, of our performers, we do our best to give them all chances to sell merchandise, pass the hat, etc.

The problem is, we’re human. At least two fantastic acts have not gotten what we planned for them, because we dropped the ball. Last year, we had a mixup with a dance troupe that was thankfully resolved. We’re trying to fix all the issues we can as fast as possible, but to answer the question which we get most often “Why am I not where I wanted to be?” It’s because you’re not Voltaire.
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July 2013

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