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Raw Attendance and Financial Numbers

October 25th, 2012
contra, bida, publicy

BIDA records attendance and financial information for each dance: how many people came, how much money did we take in, what did we pay people? This all goes in a Google Docs Drive spreadsheet, and I recently learnd that you can make a read only view available to people. So I'm thinking about whether we can link it on our website. We're already public about our pay scale [1], so this would mostly be to help organizers and other interested people understand the raw messiness of running a dance. I also think that if we're going to be asking people to donate to us, which we do, then we should make available as much information as we can easily provide about where the money goes.

Several people I've talked to have been very supportive of the idea:

Why should financial transparency be an issue? We found our dancers were surprised at how expensive the hall is, and how we underpay the caller and band. Understanding that we're not "raking in the money" has increased their support of our additional fund-raising efforts. -- Steve Gold (Troy MI)

I wish dance organizers were totally open not just about general expenses, but also about specific pay amounts per dance. Sure, it depends on things that aren't entirely within the dance's control. When running a dance, it is important to know how much money is an appropriate amount to pay musicians. And you can't get that without knowing average performer pay in other places. I don't really understand any privacy concerns, here-- this is information about a dance, not personal information. As a performer, I think it's particularly important to know how you are doing relative to the average take of performers at the dances you go to. If you do worse or better than average generally, that certainly affects the decision of what gigs to take in the future. I don't think performers will get upset at getting less money due to lower attendance if organizers are open about their formulas. Keeping these numbers secret just seems like a way to keep performers in the dark so they don't complain, even if they would have good reason to. -- Dave Casserly (DC)

Some dance organizers I've talked to have said they think perfomers wouldn't like it if we made this information available. So, musicians and callers: would you be unhappy if an organization that hired you linked full per-dance attendance and financial information from their website?


[1] $75/person, plus $25 if there's a mentoring component, plus profit sharing if there's any left over after fixed expenses.

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