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Topic: School Assemblies
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 26, 2014 09:57PM)
Anyone ever joined a school assembly before? I am presently with one in my state. There is one that got my attention recently. It is called School Programs USA: http://www.schoolprogramsusa.com/aboutus.html Have anyone subcontracted with them before?
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Jan 27, 2014 08:24AM)
Dick Oslund is the man to talk on school assemblies. He worked them for years.
Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Jan 27, 2014 08:38AM)
On 2014-01-27 09:24, hugmagic wrote:
Dick Oslund is the man to talk on school assemblies. He worked them for years.


I believe what he was asking was has anyone worked with this agency before.

I have never worked with an agency for school assemblies Mike, I've always promoted myself. But the more eggs you have in more baskets, the more shows you will book. This is interesting and I'm going to lok into it myself.

Thanks for sharing
Message: Posted by: Scott O. (Jan 27, 2014 01:29PM)
This is from their website:

[quote][b]Understanding Today’s Assembly Presenters[/b]
The foundation of an Assembly program is the presenter and the content of the program. Some presenters are educators, while others are specialists in a specific field, and the latest entry to Assembly presenters is the newer breed of local or amateur entertainers.

This difference in background can often be an important factor in the style and success of a program. Many times programs presented by educators are more direct and curriculum-based. These are often presented in a format similar to classroom instruction. Programs offered by specialists, authors or guest speakers in a field tend to be rather factual and may include a more entertaining presentation designed for maximum impact. Finally the local entertainer is an area that while often being fun and interesting, a new trend has many kids party entertainers believing that just because they add a brief “educational” message or theme to their standard performance they can consider it an Assembly program. Many times this type of presentation may lack the presentation skills required to reach, hold and maintain the interests of the students for the duration of the program.[/quote]

They go on to say that, depending on the school's needs, an entertainer may be a good fit. However, it seems clear that they are primarily emphasizing a solidly educational program. Food for thought when entering into this venue.
Message: Posted by: harris (Jan 27, 2014 02:01PM)
When I was working out of Reno, Nevada, I worked with an organization called Young Audiences.

I am not familiar with the one you mentioned.

As fare as schools looking for solid education...That is true.

After working with the D.O.C.(department of corrections) I now have been housed in schools for the last 14 years.

Some like programs for the entire school. Others like ones that appeal to certain subjects. I know our media center (also known as libraries) bring in speakers that do the same program 5 to 7 times during a day.

Programs vary from an author talking about their craft, to someone portraying a civil war soldier.

Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 27, 2014 02:29PM)
This is interesting. I don't see a pitch for acts, however.

As an aside, what do you guys think of their webpage? What a piece of garbage! Incredibly confusing, text-heavy and discourages one from reading the entire thing. If this is typical of the way they promote I would not put much faith in them.

I am gonna go out on a limb as guess that Robinn Lange, whoever that is, owns this agency. I notice that Robinn Lange is half of the advertised entertainers on the page.

UPDATE: I love it when instincts pay off. Looked it up. Registrant Name: Robinn Lange.
Message: Posted by: dearwiseone (Jan 27, 2014 02:57PM)
Yeah, I could tell it wasn't a real, professional organization.

I had the same thought as you Starrpower....this has got to be run by one guy. I thought he might be booking just his shows, or him and his buddies.

I'd steer clear of this one Dynamike, but those are just my thoughts!

- Kevin
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 27, 2014 03:01PM)
Good catch, Starrpower. The quote above by Scott O. seems to indicate a distaste (not Scott's) for the entertainer presenter, that includes a brief "educational" message in the program. It sounds like the author is destroying a certain group of competition early on... kind of a less-directed negative ad campaign.

To call them a new breed is hardly truthful. Entertainment programs for school assemblies is hardly anything new, even those that have no educational message at all. I watched many as a kid, and performed enough of them as a younger magician to know.

I think it is just a bit more difficult for that type of performer/presenter to enter the market than it used to be. While it is not impossible to do purely entertaining programs in schools, I think many are going to look for the educational angles. To make that easier to do, I can see them relying on agencies. The assumption would be that the agencies have already done the "weeding out" process, and are only offering programs that pass the muster, which may mean making the most of every minute the kids are in school, i.e., educating them.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Jan 27, 2014 04:05PM)
On 2014-01-27 15:01, Harris wrote:

After working with the D.O.C.(department of corrections) I now have been housed in schools for the last 14 years.



They should rent you an apartment, at least :)
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jan 27, 2014 04:32PM)
Here is one of the school show directories that exists in the U.S.:


- Donald
Message: Posted by: harris (Jan 27, 2014 04:38PM)
Jay. I like the way your mind reads and thinks

Early on my principle introduced me as a new contractor with the district.
I was introduced as someone from Lansing penitentiary. (In cold blood's main characters were "housed" and then executed there.
He told my new colleagues I was on a work release program.

Over the last 14 years I have seen things ranging from BMX demos to
The mother of a girl who committed suicide after cyber bullying.
Megan's mother's talk hit home and us still talked about.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 27, 2014 07:40PM)

Of course, I've been retired since 2008, and am somewhat "out of the loop". Only a few of he old assembly bureaus that I worked with--or knew about are even in existence, today. I can name two! Bureau of Lectures & Concert Artists, and Dakota Assemblies! (and I'm not sure that "B of L & C A" is still using that title.

I've heard of several "new" companies, but, know very little about them or their operation.

Lyceum programs began as "evening Lyceum" (usually used school facilities) when CHAUTAUQUA faded away. After a few years, they became "day Lyceum".

Some of the bureaus that were active for many years, but are now out of business, partly because the owner/manager passed away, and partly because the needs and desires of the schools have changed.

The Antrim Bureau, School Assembly Service, Southeast School Assemblies, North Dakota State University's Division of Independent Study, University of Minnesota Assembly Programs, Universtity of Wisconsin Assembly Programs, National School Assemblies, Graham Lyceum Bureau, Charles Dietrich Assemblies, William Bale Asemblies, Southern School Assemblies, Dorothy Bennett Assemblies, and International Lectures at one time "covered" the U.S.A.! I'm sure that I've forgotten a few of them!

I was associated with and toured for a number of them. I also booked other talent for School Assembly Service, and Nstional School Assemblies.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jan 27, 2014 08:10PM)
Great history lesson, Dick! Thank you!
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Jan 27, 2014 09:38PM)
I told you guys Grandfather Oslund was the guy to talk about all this.

Dick could tell you how to look for warning signs in bureaus, ways to maximum your returns from booking and so many more things. He really needs to get the book done.

Message: Posted by: thekidsmagician (Jan 29, 2014 11:35AM)
High End Professional are updated their image and have impressive websites.

Curtis, I agree...but only if their target market finds them online and has specific expectations for what a website should look like. If they get gigs through other means, a website might not be a big part of their business marketing.

I know one entertainer over here (UK) who spent thousands of pounds getting a really nice website done with a professionally-shot video intro. It looked really slick and very impressive - the only problem was that they couldn't entertain at all!

So I'm agreeing with you, but also saying the website for his target market might not be everything.

- Mike
Message: Posted by: harris (Jan 29, 2014 11:57AM)
Yes...one needs a decent or better website and a good program

One tip on what not to do. (as actually heard from an assembly presenter)

"now that we got the boring stuff over, where going to play some music".

The groups website looked great.
The group has not been asked back.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jan 29, 2014 12:05PM)

I total agree with all your points.

But even if you don't use your website to pull in clients. People still like to refer to a website for visual purposes!
Websites should be a form of enhance advertisement
and to be used to bring in clients using SEO.

Neither of his sites seems to be that way.

People tend to pay more when everything is in shinny packages even for a same product.
Although in our industry we should be doing nice acts for clients no matter what...

This recalls a story.
A buddy of mine is in branding.
A company with many types of food products in stores such as Target, Ralphs and Krogers... (large and popular stores in the US)
The tea devision wanted to increase there sells.
Which the branding agent did in in the millions the first month or two.

This is what he did:

He changed the packaging to something modern and sleek ( healthy -trendy style)
Then, he change the price from 1.99 to $5.99.

The tea didn't stay on the shelves at these stores. People where buying them.

Did it totally without advertising and promotions. (well being in stores already helps)

So to me, branding/packaging is important.

Anyone can get a decent website for $500 and nice photos for $300
and editing for $100.

Then once you grow from their spend more for greater and better things as your act grows.

Another thing is that Mindpro-Robin Lange makes himself out to be an expert.

I believe he has spoken on this forum regarding SEO, professionalism, style, show concepts, quality and professionalism etc.

So he is highly judged on what he actually does.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jan 29, 2014 12:13PM)
On 2014-01-29 12:57, Harris wrote:
Yes...one needs a decent or better website and a good program

One tip on what not to do. (as actually heard from an assembly presenter)

"now that we got the boring stuff over, where going to play some music".

The groups website looked great.
The group has not been asked back.


Now imagine the ones who have great acts and great websites.
Think about the work and offers they get!

So it seems like a combination of both is the IDEAL! :)
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 29, 2014 02:39PM)
A few thoughts that I "forgot" to put in post above....

Since the days of the INTERNATIONAL PLATFORM ASSOCIATION, the terms: "act" or "show" were not used. "Talent" presented "Programs"--and that is how they were described and sold. I suspect that this stemmed from the days of Chautaqua, which always presented educational, morally uplifting, motivational, and, entertaining PROGRAMS.

I recall booking all kinds of science programs (liquid air especially) animals (some did 'tricks' others were used in demonstrations (everything from trained dogs and seals, to spiders and reptiles, hand writing analysis, memory demonstrations ('like' Harry Lorrayne) YOGA, and athletic type programs from basic gymnastis, to trampolines and demonstrations of new games like frisbees and hacky sack, magic, juggling ventriloquism, marionettes and puppets, musicians, singers and instrumentalists, mime, "travelogue type illustrated lectures,sand pictures, ETC!!!

The assembly bureau always tried to have a good "mix' on the list of available programs each year.. Some were strictly Elementary oriented, others High Schoo, and some could work for K-12.

I'm including in the book a list of magicians (that I knew or know of)who played schools (some who toured for the assembly bureaus, and some who booked themselves independently.0 Many will be surprised at some at the names!

This is slightly off subject for the OP, but it MAY be of interest to some of the guys.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Jan 29, 2014 03:27PM)

Great pointer the word program!
Would that roll over to the college aspect or?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 29, 2014 06:41PM)
I only remember playing a few colleges for an assembly bureau. (I have booked a number of colleges independently.) There is no principal to contact! Colleges have student committees who arrange "concerts" and other affairs.

I recall North Dakota State University in Fargo. They had an "all nighter". I was booked to do close up! They "gave" me a table in an open area (the "forum"). The committee had a round table and about 10 chairs around it. Ten students sat and I did an opening. I looked up and there was about20 kids standing behind the chairs. I did the second bit, looked up and about 20 more were standing on chairs behind the first 20 standees! It was obvious that we had to change plans. I got my contact person, and suggested that I stroll. He agreed and that's what I did for about four hours!

The bureau "salesmen" didn't normally call on colleges. The college committees would contact our office and the whole thing was handled by phone and mail. I'm sure that the bureau manager would have used the term "program".

I remember an unusual booking in a college in Montana. The college was having some sort of "family day". Families came,apparently to "check out" the school. Many parents brought young children. I was "family entertainment". It was an exceptionally friendly group. If only they were all that easy!
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Jan 29, 2014 08:59PM)
While I don't know anything about the site mentioned in the first post I can tell you that any booking agency today for school assemblies will be a tuff cookie to crack!
schools today are spending less in some ways but still buying assemblies. they will pay the price for a top quality assembly and will shy away from anything that screams "magic show" meaning just a show.

gone are the days of taking your kids show and throwing in a few educational pointers or feel good comments.

you need a show that has a beginning middle and ending. it must I repeat it must have great educational content. it must be relevant to the curriculum schools are using today.

for me I am currently on a year long 45 state national tour. we just finished 140 shows in 17 states in the last 15 weeks! now on the east coast. just left Massachusetts and now in NY.

my show runs 50 minutes start to finish and includes several grand illusions.

but you were talking about agencies and my comment would be there are not many out there but they are out there.
I would recommend before looking into an agency that you develop a school show and then push it yourself for a while get it worked out and timed out to be what you want it to be.

and one thing you need to keep in mind. most agencies want you to travel every where. meaning all across the country. some times long term sometimes for a month or two. you need to be prepared to travel. cost of how you travel, where you sleep, what and where you will eat. then you have to factor in the expense of traveling. living on the road aint cheap. you also need to factor in set up time, tear down time, travel time to the next show as most days you will need to do 2 shows some times 3 in one day. then you have to make sure your show works in every imaginable situation. from gym floors to beautiful stages to all purpose rooms to tiny tiny library.

my assistant and I travel in a 40' bus with 14' trailer in tow. were 60' long!
we have another 200 shows to go and loving every minute of it. I should say my current assistant for this tour is my beautiful daughter tessa. she is 15 and an accomplished magician in her own rights!

ok got to go were parked here now at the school in bellport NY and getting ready to watch a movie on the big screen here in the bus. woo hoo.

if you have any questions I would be happy to answer. I think between me and Dick we have like over 50 years of school assemblies as I have been doing them for about 18 years myself. LOL

ok my daughter is calling me I got to go now!!!

Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 29, 2014 09:15PM)
Sam, you planning to perform in Michigan?
Message: Posted by: charliecheckers (Jan 29, 2014 09:26PM)
Sam - where else are you going in NY?
Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Jan 29, 2014 09:28PM)
Dynamike we finished the west coast and mid west not sure were getting to michigan

charlie were all over NY from flushing to queens village to brooklyn
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 29, 2014 09:43PM)
If you do come to Michigan, please let me know. I will be glad to meet you.
Message: Posted by: charliecheckers (Jan 29, 2014 09:45PM)
Sam - are you traveling in upstate NY, such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse? Have you had time to do sight seeing along the way, or are shows dominating your time? What has been your best/worst surprise about your tour so far? Good luck getting around NYC with a 60' rig.
Message: Posted by: Bazinga (Jan 29, 2014 10:57PM)
[quote]On 2014-01-29 20:15, TomBoleware wrote:
Maybe he was the Masked Magician.[/quote]
I thought he was this guy:

Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Jan 29, 2014 11:47PM)
Charlie. Nothing that far north that I'm a aware of. We did the Bronx and flushing ny already. And New Hampshire
Yes lots of time for sight seeing well maybe I should not say lots of time but yes we have had some awesome time to sight see
The mid west and west coast was awesome. From hiking in the hills of New Mexico to having David Copperfield invite us back stage in Vegas to taking my daughter to the magic castle to see some shows. We got hang out in Beverly Hills and walk rodeo drive and lots of other fun stuff. A life time of memories.

I even got to hang out with howie when I was in Cali! That was fun.

As for the worse thing I think having mechanical issues while on the road have been the worse. Once we ended up having to rent a uhaul to drive 3 hours to a show and then drive all the way back to get my rig the. Drive back the same 3 hours as we had 2 more shows in that town the next day. That was a lot of work and not fun.

But the good has out weighed the bad in so many ways.
You can follow me on face book if you want.

Well got to go 3 shows tomorrow so need some sleep.

Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 30, 2014 12:49AM)
Yes! (mechanicalproblems with vehiclesl!!!!!!!!and personal physical problems!!!!!!!!

Before hitting the road each season, I always had myself (dentist optometrist,primary care doctor,etc., "checked out"! I had spare glasses, dentures, ETC.) ALSO had the vehicle checked out. Even with all that, problems could develop.

Fuel pumps,tire blowouts, ignition systems, clogged fuel filters, brakes, furnace in RV, ETC.. Neil Foster and I were jackpotting over coffee, and we both agreed that DOING THE PROGRAM, was the least of the "challenges". The #1 "challenge" was keeping the show on the road--making the dates.

Personal health demanded REST. Before the days of FLU shots, I had (on the road) flu two different times, and pneumonia once. Even with pre-tour check ups, I had a tooth problem in the final week of a tour in North Dakota. I had to arrange for a friend to finish the last ten days. In 2007, I hit a deer in rural Illinois. ($6,000 damage to a new pick up that pulled my 5th wheel) No rental cars available. I lost a week.

See you down the road!

Dick Oslund
Sneaky, underhanded,devious and surreptitious itinerant mountebanc!
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Jan 30, 2014 08:39AM)
Making the dates is a big one. I think it was Gene Gordon who worked California in the early days who made all the dates on an assembly tour. He was the first guy to do so and the bureau chief was shocked expecting him to blow off several as other had done.

Dick, sometimes you even had to help shovel out a driveway to get a bed for night :).

Message: Posted by: Sam Sandler (Jan 30, 2014 04:01PM)
I have only missed one date out of 150 shows so far. It was due to temps being negative 28 and gumming up my diesel fuel.
Not to mention my agent not giving us proper travel time. I was so bummed. If we had have the proper travel time I could have figured out a so.ution and gotten there. We were literally 15. Minutes from the school Ugh. But life happens.

We enjoy the traveling and I love getting to entertain all these kids and inspire them too