Author Topic: A Faire's day pay...?  (Read 3532 times)

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Offline buzzylycanthrope

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A Faire's day pay...?
« on: June 26, 2008, 07:34:18 AM »
I realize this may be a bit of a touchy subject, but my intention is certainly not to offend anyone.

My wife and I have been asked to participate in a Faire - we would have a "house" (hut/croft?) that would be open throughout the Faire and exhibit sheep, goats, chickens, spinning, and be sort of a living history exhibit.

We would also do several shows a day with the animals.

The question is, what do expereinced performers think is a fair(e) day's pay for this sort of activity? Or perhaps, what do other similar (or dissimilar) acts/house/participants receive?

We participated as vendors in a faire many years ago, and vendors have the advantage of going walkabout and looking at other's prices - something that just doesn't seem to be possible with what we are being asked to do.

Please, be nice, we haven't had contact with faire for over 20 years and have no idea what is considered food for discussion and what isn't.

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2008, 08:27:46 AM »
That's a tough one to answer because there are so many variables.  The only rule of thumb anyone can give you is charge enough to cover your necessities and tack on a profit margin.  That profit is the only thing that you can adjust to negotiate with.  If you are giving up another income to do it, you will want to replace that.  For instance, I am a stage act that also performs in local bars.  If I have to give up a performance and wage from one of those gigs and I can't make it up at faire then it's not worth doing.  If you don't need the profit to pay bills and just enjoy doing it, then you have something to bargain with.

Keep in mind that the owners are not going to pay you more than you will make for them.  If those figures (what you are worth and what you need plus profit) don't fall in the same range, don't do it.  It's as simple as that.

Other things to consider;  if it is a new faire and you might get better pay in future years and it won't hurt you to charge less you might want to help the new faire out by charging less;  gasoline and everything else is going up fast.  Negotiating at today's prices may break you when payday arrives.  It's impossible to predict what your costs will be at contract singing time so leave a workable margin.

That's my take.  As a matter of principle and to help other acts, you should stay away from established faires that want you to do it for free or a too low a fee.  They are either poorly managed or greedy or have some other problem that you should not have to carry.

All the best and good luck.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline buzzylycanthrope

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2008, 09:49:56 AM »
Thanks Terry, I appreciate it.

And it was a faire response and fits well into the capitalist spirit of us all...but just exactly WHAT is a fair profit margin?

Since we will be expected to "perform" for the entire day, with shows scheduled as well - does that change the equation over performers that do several shows and have the rest of the day "off"?

And just what "range" should a performer expect?  I realize that's a huge range - but is it out of line to ask?

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2008, 11:33:40 AM »
I can't give you a dollar figure.  For one thing, I don't know what kind of "performance" you do with animals but it's probably not what comes to my degenerate imagination. 

In deciding what your act is worth, a good place to start is to calculate an admission price if people were coming to see your act and paid at the door.  Think of your act as a side show where people are already there.  Would people pay a dollar or do you think they would get up off of $5 and leave saying it was worth it.  Multiply that by the number of people that your area seats.  NOT by the daily attendance at the main gate.  That is a mistake many performers make.  They see a thousand people a day coming in the gate and base their price on that.  They can't be worth that much because not every patron sees every act and some acts are just time killers until the act they really want to see comes on.  Keep in mind that the owners are going to pay what you are worth to them as opposed to what you think you are worth.

An act that will draw 20 people to their stage and might be worth $2 a piece to patrons would be $40 per set times 4 performances would be $160 per day.  That's just your performance and separate from your other "worth" as an exhibit.  Maybe your act would draw twice that many people and would be so unique that people would pay $3 to see it.  That would work out to $480 per day.  I can just see other stage acts now working the figures for their stages and comparing it to what they are contracted for.  Remember all the disparages between faires and their gate.  They also need to consider tips (herein after called the "HAT") and CD sales which you won't have unless you actually play the animals.  That might be a $5.00 act right there.

If these rough and varied calculations don't sound right to other performers reading this, I'm sure they will correct me and point out the errors in my thinking.  All these calculations are subject to the final determination; what the owners are prepared to pay.  You may come up with a figure that would make them say "are you out of your bestial  mind"?  You might point out where you got that figure and they just might raise their original offer but they have a budget that they have calculated as well.  You need to convince them of your worth.  That's a lot easier to do after a season.

I hope this helps.  Nobody can give you any more information unless they see the act, know the gate and whether the owners are liberal,  conservative or down right miserly.  I have worked for all three types and usually manage to compensate through hard work or treachery or both. 

Again, I wish you continued luck.  I say continued because you have obviously already found a good woman to put up with this nonsense.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline buzzylycanthrope

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2008, 11:47:15 AM »
Oh, I found the good woman long enough ago she wouldn't know what to do without me now...

I hope she doesn't read that.

Thanks again for the feedback, Terry, it's all something to consider.

What we do is sheepherding demonstartions - we use dogs to move sheep and goats around the Faire and then into the list area where we demonstrate the commands and methods.  And generally give a history lesson of the dogs, shepherding, the clearances, and whatever else might strike our fancy and lend itself to getting the audience to buy-in.

As far as playing the animals and cutting a CD, that's unlikely, none of our goats can carry a tune, and while the dogs can howl quite nicely, it is usually done while crooning to a female locked away in a kennel.

We also have, essentially, a "petting zoo" with these animals while not "performing" - and this is actually the hardest work - no breaks, no "downtime", etc.  Although the dogs find it heavenly to work the livestock, take naps, and get petted.  The sheep and goats don't have nearly as much fun.

While the fair allows a hat - we are usually so busy with the animals, and getting them taken care of before and after the perfformance - that our tips are minimal.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2008, 11:49:00 AM by buzzylycanthrope »

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2008, 12:27:56 PM »
Neat.

We have Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers which are historically herders as well as going to ground but now all they herd is us.

That is a pretty specialized act.  It would probably be impossible for an owner to replace you.  That should be worth plenty but only after they see how much people like it.  Next year, you should ask for double if it is a hit this year.

You need to develop a "Hat line".  Something to say that draws attention to the fact that you accept and expect a tip without sounding like you are begging or aren't adequately paid by the owner.  Maybe, "We are very well compensated for our trouble but the animals depend on your generosity for their treats and comforts".  The tradition of tipping is deferent at a ren fest than anywhere else but you still need to ask.  Maybe have a feedbag or something similar to collect them with a sign designating it for animal treats.  Keep it empty except for a couple of seed dollars and people will give out of appreciation for you and the animals.  Make that a regular part of your banter and it will pay off.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline buzzylycanthrope

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2008, 12:48:24 PM »
Thanks again, Terry

Offline Escarlata

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2008, 04:31:41 PM »
You might consider contacting some of the Bird of Prey acts. Though different, there is also some striking similarities to the type of show. Since you're not a competing act, they very well might be able to discuss cost factors and how they go about determining their worth. I've got a couple of contacts from interviews I've done for FaireNews so, if you're interested in talking to them, send me a PM.
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Offline aerial angels

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2008, 07:31:32 PM »
I've been a performer for a long time and I don't even know where to begin because what you do is so different!

Here's what I'd do if it were me - call up a few places that do petting zoos for fairs and festivals. Ask them for a price quote for an event. It's up to you whether you want to identify yourself as a fellow petting zoo person (I don't know how competitive your business is) or just say you are looking for quotes. That will give you a ballpark.

For a show with animals done three times a day, I'd ask at least $400/day and probably more if the fair is bigger (and hey, start by adding up your gas, any special costs related to getting there and keeping the animals there, and your hours at whatever you could make per hour staying home or doing another gig). For the petting zoo part, see above, but you should be getting more money because that's a free attraction for the fair, so it's added value for them.

Hat pass - either ditch it entirely and quote the festival a price based on you NOT passing the hat, or get yourself a twelve to fifteen year old girl who wants to get into the festival for free every day and likes animals. Pay her a pittance for being your break girl, getting you food and water and so on, and give her some free tickets for her friends. Or, get her to also take on some extra jobs and pay her minimum wage. At your shows, finish the show with a real hat line, and announce that Cutie McNubile here is going to be coming around with the hat pass (and a basket of baby animals, if you want to really milk it) and the audience can make a contribution to the animals' care and feeding. I bet the assistant will earn her pay in one show.

You might also put a tip bucket by the exit to the petting zoo, or sell handfuls of appropriate animal treats.

 

Offline BrotherDonald

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2008, 04:52:43 PM »
Aerial Angels is right about her $400 per day figure.  If you're going to be packing up sheep and dogs and other miscellaneous animals, and performing 4 shows a day, the amount of work you'll be doing will be well worth that fee. 

The problem may be finding a faire that's willing to pay the price.  Selling little bags of goat chow for children to feed to animals at the petting zoo is a proven money maker.  (I've even seen it done with an m&m vending machine at a renaissance faire.)  However, remember that on rainy days, you won't sell any.  If the promoters don't promote the show and if crowds are small, your sales will be meager.  In the mind of most renaissance festival entertainment directors, the cheapest shows are the ones they like the best.  Be prepared for your ED to come back at you with a counter offer of $50 per day.  Do not believe an entertainment director when he tells you what you are worth.  This is a very tough business and I don't recommend it to anyone.   

Bob Otto did your show at Scarborough Faire and elsewhere for many years.  He may be your best source of reliable information.   The best contact information I have for him is a snail mail address.  If you want it, send me an Email and I'll send it to you..
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Offline buzzylycanthrope

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2008, 02:06:59 PM »
Thanks all.

I appreciate the response's and offers...and apologize for not getting back sooner - the farm had been needing work, and the dog's wanted some attention that didn't have to do with petting zoo's and demonstrations...

Brother Donald - I worry a bit about the business as well - I was involved "back in the day" ('70's) and my wife and I were around through the mid-'80's and I must admit things seemed to have changed immensely, and like most things, not necessarily for the better.

Like many things, once it is seen as a big money scene - some will take advantage of other's loves...an unfortunate occurrence and one reason I'm trying to get a reasonable idea of reasonable expectations.

Faire can be magical, I would like to be part of that - but if folks are going to make money, I think it should be a shared magic for us all - and it certainly appears as if many entertainers are doing a lot of work for little pay.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2008, 02:08:08 PM by buzzylycanthrope »

Offline BLAKDUKE

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2008, 01:53:13 PM »
Excuse me for one moment as this has nothing to do with the question at hand, but I saw the post from BrotherDonald and wanted to say hello.  It has been many years since I have seen/heard you.  My wife and I were King and Queen at the Tenn. faire many years ago and I always tried to make time to hear your stories.  Where do you hang your cassok these days.  If you would post in the squires tavern we can converse there and not hi-jack this thread any further.  Again I apologize..
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Offline Miguel de Zaragoza

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Re: A Faire's day pay...?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2008, 04:13:37 PM »
Wow.....how much do you charge?

These are questions I would ask myself:

How much money do I actually need to make this job work for me?

Have I done this before - can I prove that I will get (and keep) and audience?

How much pleasure will I get out of this venue?

Do I have an "built in audience" or fan base?

Am I capable of providing "PR" (public relations - press) value? (i.e. - unique, great phot ops, world known, super-funny, super family,etc)

If this is a first time/first year deal - you might think of asking for less for the first year with the knowledge that if what you are doiong "works" for you and the festival you will return with higher pay the following year, or consider negotiating a multi-year contract.

Many folks try to make too much too soon without paying "dues". And "paying dues" here means proving yourself. Good luck, though. New shows are always welcome!



 

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