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How Should BIDA Finance a Sound System?

June 7th, 2013
sound, contra, bida  [html]

BIDA is thinking of buying a sound system. We can store one at the hall and owning a system would dramatically decrease the unpleasant fraction of the work of running sound for the dance. It would also allow people to run sound for our dances who don't have cars. [1] We're talking of an expense of around $3000, so this isn't just something BIDA can go out and buy.

One option would be to raise the money. Some combination of asking people, fundraiser dances, and selling things [2] could work. If we did this it might make sense to buy a system in pieces, starting with heavy or bulky things that are hard to move.

Another option would be to get some kind of loan and pay it back. We currently pay $75/dance for someone to bring and run sound. When the sound person has to rent a system, about 1/3 of the time, this divides into $50 to rent it and $25 for picking it up, setting it up, running sound, packing it up, and bringing it back. If we had our own system we could keep the $50/dance and the $25 that the sound person would get would be for less work. [3] At $50/dance and about 24 dances a year [4] then $3000 would take about 2.5 years, a bit more with interest.

I don't like the idea of raising money for something we can afford ourselves, so I'm inclined to try and get a loan from another dance organization, and pay it back over the next ~3 years. But talking to some people that's a weird thing to do and instead we should fundraise. Thoughts?

Update 2016-12-06: we ended up getting a system on long term loan from Michael Bergman, and then buying additional pieces for it (bigger mixer, more xlrs, DI boxes) from dance revenue.


[1] People who have access to a car but no sound system can still run sound for the dance, in that we can rent a system. This happens about 1/3 of the time. (In theory one could rent a car to run sound for the dance, but that's much more expensive than renting a sound system. Which makes sense, as the initial cost of a car is 5x more and they have similar lifetimes.)

[2] Not clear what we would sell, though. The dessert potluck at our dances is free, with donations requested to help cover popsicles, and we like it that way.

[3] At that point I'm not sure if it would still make sense to pay the sound person at all. We don't pay hall managers or people in other organizer roles. Running sound is currently a lot more work than our other roles, but if we buy a system then it's only somewhat more work. You can fall back and say "supply and demand" but a lot of "who gets paid?" in the dance world is cultural. For example, contra dancers pay their musicians but morris dancers don't.

[4] Our twice a month dance usually skips three dates in the summer, but then has approximately three special event dances at other times of the year.

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