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Topic: Selling Shows to Schools
Message: Posted by: Dayle (Jan 20, 2005 01:26PM)
Hello to all! I'm curious as to the reasons that schools hire you for shows? Is the show based on reading, learning, etc,? Or is it just for entertainment? How do you sell your show to schools?

Thanks for your advice!


Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Jan 20, 2005 01:38PM)
We personally just visit schools as Entertainment. Maybe an end-of-term Christmas treat. This is all we want out of the school market.

There are, however, entertainers here who market actively to schools, with various themes, i.e. road safety, drugs, etc. I'm sure you will learn a tremendous amount from these people, Dayle. Welcome by the way.

Message: Posted by: Dayle (Jan 20, 2005 01:45PM)
Thanks, Tony! It's so nice to learn from the ones who have been there already!


Message: Posted by: BIlly James (Jan 20, 2005 04:39PM)
Hi Dayle,

I have a number of shows I do in schools, usually three, but this year I've added a fourth. Each year all of my shows carry educational themes except one.

Only one show is purely entertainment.

As Tony pointed out, schools will book shows like this for an end-of-term treat or sometimes just as a treat for no particular occasion.

However, this show receives FAR less bookings than the educational ones. In fact this year I haven't even had one single booking for the 'entertainment only' show. Mind you, this is unusual, I usually get a fair few bookings for it.

So the upshot is, if you are wanting to supplement your other magic income with school shows, then a show purely for entertainment is fine. If, however, you are wanting your school shows to make up the bulk of your income, then you will really need to get something with an educational message.

If you are looking for some ideas please feel free to send me a PM.


Message: Posted by: Creative Coach (Jan 20, 2005 04:49PM)
I have a wide variety of topics I do programs on. In the states few schools hire "Entertainment". This seems to be a non-US type event. Schools want programs on educational topics. Get to know some school officials and find out what they need help teaching. Find out who's already in your market area. Study the topic. Learn the topic.

There is no instant school show. The last one I wrote took a year and a half of research. But it gets terrific reviews. When it comes to subject knowledge you should be "a mile deep and an inch wide" not "a mile wide and an inch deep!" In other words KNOW your subject. Educators can tell!

It really upsets me when I hear an entertainer say, "Character Ed? That sounds like a great subject. I'll do a school show next week on it!" The education market isn't the party market! A bad entertainer can turn a district off hiring any performers.

How do I know? Principals and school administrators talk!
Message: Posted by: Dayle (Jan 20, 2005 08:38PM)
Thanks, Billy! I think it's smart to offer a few different 'teaching' magic shows. People like to be able to choose what fits them the best, and I think teachers (educators) would choose something that matches a theme or lesson they are currently teaching their students, whether it's a focus on reading or whatever. I think you have a better chance to attract their attention with different options.

That's an interesting point, Creative Coach! I'd say you wouldn't be doing school shows long if you didn't know the topic you were teaching. It's not something you can wing! Not only that but word of mouth travels fast, and if it's a bad review you can almost guarantee not to get any more shows.

Schools here really don't seem to hire 'entertainment' either. I think the 'teaching' shows would go over much better.

Thanks for all the responses so far!


Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jan 20, 2005 10:28PM)
Dayle -

In my travels to Alberta, I have done shows of both types - for fun, and educational (message) shows at elementary schools. Same for my home area.

However, the most important thing you should know is that you have a resource in your own back yard. You need to talk with Steve Harmer (in Calgary, too). He dominates the school show market in your area, and was a former principal. His shows are full of rich educational content, and he is very much in demand.

If you know him, ask him for some help getting started.

Everett Andrews may also be a good resource.

- Donald

P.S. For those of you in other parts, I seem to recall that BJ Hickman interviewed Steve Harmer on his cassette titled "Checklist for Success from the Decision Makers." I don't own this, just have heard excellent reviews. BJ was one of the presenters at the Magic Success Seminars. http://www.magicsuccessseminars.com/MSS/default.htm

Here's a description of that product: "Checklist for Success from the Decision Makers" audio CD....$20.00. Interview results of dozens of school enrichment program coordinators, principals, etc., on how and why they book us in their schools. It's for sale on this webpage: http://www.bjhickman.com/products.htm
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Jan 21, 2005 02:54AM)

Here in the UK you can get entertainment-only shows in schools. In my experience of the UK (Wales) if I am hired directly by the school or PTA then it is for an entertainment show (in fact I have heard them complain about performers who slip messages in). The Educational shows that I perform tend to be paid for by local authorities, and the schools get the shows free.

Message: Posted by: kenscott (Jan 21, 2005 07:06AM)

Different life here in the states with the schools. Rarely do I go in just for entertainment at schools. Sometimes I do go and do evening shows, but more than likely I did day assembly programs the day of.

Here the students can't miss class time to see non-educational shows. There are exceptions but they are few an far between.

Message: Posted by: todd75 (Jan 21, 2005 08:06AM)
It is very rare that a school will ever call for a "just for fun" event unless it's something like a school carnival or fundraiser. Otherwise, they are looking for an assembly program where the students are not only going to enjoy and laugh but also learn valuable lessons. I for one offer four motivational school programs which have all gotten huge results and great reviews. The key to remember is that the program MUST contain material that actually teaches and informs the children on a certain topic: reading, drugs, self-esteem, etc.
Message: Posted by: Dayle (Jan 21, 2005 08:32AM)
Thanks for all the information! The school market could be great to get into but there's a lot of work that needs to be done before that happens. Thanks for all the suggestions. It gives me a great place to start.


Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Jan 21, 2005 09:49AM)
Why can't schools see that kids just need to enjoy life and have fun? Too bad really.
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (Jan 21, 2005 04:30PM)
On 2005-01-21 10:49, Rob Johnston wrote:
Why can't schools see that kids just need to enjoy life and have fun? Too bad really.


I turned up at a school once (booked through an agent), and they had forgotten that a show was booked for that day. I offered to re-schedule, but the principal said they were happy to go ahead.

They didn't even know what show they were getting! He asked what shows I had, and so I ran through the two educational ones and also the 'entertainment only' show.

Well, the principal laughed and said to one of the teachers, 'Would we like to watch something educational or a magic show?' He said, 'Of course, we'll take the magic show'.

So there you go. There's a school who's keeping the dream alive.

Message: Posted by: Southwest Sam (Jan 21, 2005 07:03PM)
The School up this way has a Western theme day every year for the 2nd Graders, so my act fits right in. Beyond that I'm embarrassed to say I have no further advice to give.

My show was booked for "Entertainments" purpose only and they've always asked me back. So I guess it's not so much that it needs to be "Educational". In some areas though, Schools require the show to contain some kind of Educational content.

My daughter's School just sent home a memo the other day requiring all Parents working the School, anybody working with children, to take a training course. I wonder how long before this is required by School Show Entertainers (???)

Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Dec 27, 2005 06:38AM)
I love to read and am passionate about reading. So obviously I lean more towards my reading program then other subjects. I have so many props I can spin off of and a good lesson plan is a plus. I'm almost at the point of doing more lecturing then magic.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Dec 28, 2005 12:24PM)
Most schools will take what you will offer them and put you on the list. I offer motivational, inspritational, and educational magic shows. Sometimes I receive calls about entertainment magic shows. When a school wants to have a program, they call the sub-contractor that best fits the package, puppeteers, musicians, clowns, story tellers, etc.

It's best to send the schools a professional promotional package about yourself so they will put you on their list. The motivational, inspritational, and educational magic shows are usually for students during school hours. The entertainment is usually for after school programs when parents are present too, or during school hours when a teacher wants the students to learn about magic/entertainment.

Try putting together a magic act that deals with any of the following:

Drug Abuse
Goal Setting
Alcohol Abuse
Positive Self-Esteem
Stay in School
Kid's Safety
Message: Posted by: Jim Snack (Dec 28, 2005 04:21PM)
Donald is correct about BJ Hickmans's audio CD on "Checklist for Success from the Decision Makers." It's filled with great advice, as are the other two sessions BJ did for our Magic Success Seminars a few years ago. Steve Taylor, Steve Hart and I were also part of that two day seminar. We did it four times and video taped one of the seminars.

We put together a 9 DVD set of the entire event. You can learn more about it at http://www.magicsuccessseminars.com . Anyone who wants to get into the school market should seriously take a look at the set. But hurry, we only have a few sets left, and after they are gone, that's it...we are not going to offer the set again.