Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Showcase Application Season Is Upon Us! - What does that mean?

If you are looking to expand your market, showcasing is a great way to do it.  What is showcasing?  Why should you do it?  What is the most effective way to showcase?

1)  What is Showcasing?

A Showcase is a meat market experience where the artists are the meat.  It is a job fair for performers.  Arts Councils, library systems, theaters, speaker's bureaus, and a number of other organizations produce showcases.  Basically, they offer artists the option of buying a booth and putting up a display to attract customers.  This is equivalent to those showy birds that dance, puff up their chests, raise their crests and make evocative sounds to attract a mate.  You kick out the jams, put on your best display at the booth, and try to draw customers in like a spider with a devious web.  Lots of people put dishes of candy on their tables.

The booth is just one aspect of this.  The other component is the performance.  If you are lucky, you will be chosen to do a showcase performance.  This usually consists of getting anywhere from eight to twenty minutes to perform in front of the purchasers at the showcase.  PTA members, librarians, theaters, conference planners and anyone else in need of a performer could be in the audience.  They get a chance to get a flavor for what you do.  Showcasing is a great way to display your talents for a wide variety of people.

2)  Why should you Showcase?

Showcasing allows lots of different types of people to see you do your thing.  People who would never hire a storyteller because they don't have need for one in their venue, might nonetheless see you and love what you do.  Getting your name out there in a very controlled way is helpful.  Besides, you can also talk about some of the other things you offer from workshops for educators to author visits.  it is a great marketing tool.

3)  What is the most effective way to showcase?

I put this question in here because people always ask.  The simple answer is I have no idea what would work best for you.  I have some suggestions, but all I can do is explain what I do and give some examples of things that I like that I don't do.

One of the things that seems to be effective in terms of booth displays is putting candy on your table.  I don't do this, but lots of folks do.  I like banners.  I don't have one, but who knows.  Large cut outs of yourself performing or doing something interesting look good.  Large displays with pictures or great quotes are a nice touch.

My booth usually has large posters of me making wild faces.  My table contains the books I've written, all of the CDs I have, publicity packets, and business cards.  That's it.

In terms of the showcase performance.  Some people tell an entire story.  Some people tell most of one story.  Some people just explain what they do.  Some folks talk about their travels or give their credentials.

I tend to tell three to four bits of stories that would appeal to a wide variety of age groups.  I pick moments of action or tales where I am doing something vocally interesting.  I give a brief intro for each bit of tale and then I do the snippet.  My theory about this is that it allows me to do my most interesting and complicated work in a short burst.  It draws the audience in and then I stop telling.  It has been an effective way for me to intrigue an audience of buyers.

So, that's showcasing.  Here are some links to get you started.  Many of these showcases will begin taking applications very soon or they have already called for them.

For the Suburbs North of Chicago, Il

For Upstate New York

For Raleigh and Surrounding Counties

Arts Market for NC and Surrounding States

Southern Illinois Artist Showcase

Here is a site that lists lots of showcases

Okay.  Time to start marketing.  Good Luck!  Go Showcase!

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