How to Think Like Elementary School Cultural Arts Programmers takes on a completely different set of concerns than any of the other types of programmers already discussed in this series.
Many artists have found a welcome home in elementary schools. Perhaps you are one of those artists. Booking school gigs has its own set of challenges and rewards.
Finding the right person to work with within the school system will be different from district to district, city to city and even country to country. This is one of those situations where you need to do some research and the more locally you focus your attention at first, the more productive I think you’ll be.
No matter who is in charge of bookings in your school or school district, a cultural arts programmer for the district, the Parent Teacher Organization, PTA or PTO, the music teacher or the principal, the main concern is, how to relate any performance to the “Standards of Learning,” in the district or “SOL’s” as they are known in some parts of the U.S.A. Relating any cultural activity to the course work is important to schools. You may have a great concert to offer, but does it teach in some way? Does it fit into any lesson work being studied that year? Can you take your craft and turn it into a entertaining lesson that engages the students, keeps them interested while also teaches them something aligned with the dictates of learning standards demanded by the state or province?
Many areas have showcases for school districts or counties or entire provinces. Check with your school district to find out whether there is a showcase you might apply to and have an opportunity to demonstrate your programs to those who plan the school year’s activities.
Timing is also a factor depending on the age group or grade level for which you are attempting to perform. The lower grades have a shorter attention span so your program needs to accommodate that. Some school programs are offered in an assembly style situation where multiple grade levels attend at the same time. You need to plan your programs accordingly.
When planning your material, the more you can focus your approach to be both fun and educational, the more receptive the programming personnel will be. They look for acts that are colorful, present concepts that will be easy to understand, think Bill Nye, the Science Guy. If you can turn a story or a song into a participatory experience that focuses on one of the class subjects, like history, English, science, music, ecology, etc., then you have a better chance of being a hit in the schools. If you can be big and bold in your movements, colorful in your costuming, keep your program moving along at a fast pace to keep the kids actively engaged, then you may have a winning program. If you can take what you do in concert and create an experience that builds character, confidence or teaches life-learning skills in a unique way, then your services will be sought after.
How to think like elementary school cultural arts programmers also includes understanding a teachers needs to present your program to their students. If you also can provide teacher guides and classroom materials to help prepare the students for your upcoming appearance, that will help solidify your value in the school marketplace. Teachers really appreciate helpful tools to promote you and when it applies to something they are already teaching, it serves as an entertaining reinforcement of their required lessons.
When you approach elementary school programmers, focus their attention on your program from that perspective first—how and what the outcome of your program will teach as related to the sought after “Standards of Learning.” Then talk about your background and history as a performer, where you’ve performed and how you came to do what you do. If you can fill a requirement with a cultural program that is not being presented currently, you will have a winner and get bookings.
Do you currently play elementary schools? How did you manage to create programs that fit into the school’s lessons?
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Thanks to Carol Ehrlich for this week’s Biz Booster graphic image, “How To Think Like Elementary School Cultural Arts Programmers.”
Now, Thanks to the Band Curfew from the UK for providing the Biz Booster theme Music, Future Dance. Check them out at www.curfew.co.uk
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