I run a tri-monthly program for my local Arts Council, in Barrington Illinois. We feature poets, storytellers, musicians, comedians, and other types of performance artists in an evening performance held in an art gallery in a bistro setting (the Pints in the title stand for the drinks — beer and wine and soda– that we serve). We do NOT pay any of our performers, nor am I, volunteer producer and host, paid.
I will say that the “pay-off” to the participants comes in the chance to work with other performers in an ensemble type show. I find that the greatest asset I can offer the artists, is not only a great shared experience of strangers working together (most meet for the first time the night of the show–which we do on purpose), but the exposure of camaraderie after a successful show. People hang out all night after the show getting to know one another and learn from one another how different artists approach their craft. It is the great gift of education that I offer to my participants.
The audience is always entertained by the spontaneity and creativity of the evening, and though they pay to get in ($14 for a two hour plus show, and free drinks and snacks), the money we do raise goes to keep the Arts Council running so that we can offer this kind of opportunity to many different performers. This is Art at the local level, which translates into helping artists hone their crafts to achieve a more national level of performance ability. Though we have had national level performers too. It’s all about sharing the evening with the audience, and we insist that all egos are checked at the door. This tends to happen naturally, as we don’t tell the performers who else is in the show until they arrive for the evening.
Attendance: Attendance at the events run from 30 to 75 people, and since we often include up to a dozen performers per show, friends and families usually fill up the audience quite well. We also do free press releases to advertise the event, as well as poster the local hot spots. We’ve created a regular following by holding them on a regular basis.
Keys to success: Our keys to success have been the variety of artists, and allowing the performers and audience to hang out after the show. Often we bring in pizza after the show to facilitate this. As the night progresses often audience members are inspired to audition for our next performance.
Miscellaneous: Local Arts Councils are a wonderful place to bring ideas and proposals for such a show. Our Poems, Pints, and More shows have been running for nearly a dozen years, supplying the arts council with a bit of funding, as well as completing their mission of bringing opportunity to artists and great shows to local audiences.
The playfulness of life and literary expression is what draws, author, storyteller Gregory Leifel to write and perform. He can be inspirationally philosophical–as with his novel– and humorously poignant, though admittedly odd–as with his short stories–and somehow in both we walk away with a sense of wonderment, charmed, and possessed of a new way to look at the world.