THUNDER BAY, ON ---- May 16, 2010 ----- Fresh from an all day event at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, I spent the day learning how to develop and grow an audience. During the presentation by course leader Lindre Kearns, I could not help but compare some of the practices she mentioned with some of the practices used by groups I have known for years.
The first group that came to mind is the City’s Fort William Male Choir. For decades they have been performing sing-a-long smorgasbords for their patrons, and I have to admit there was a time when I performed a choir skit.
When spring concerts no longer became a viable enterprise for the choir they spent some serious thought on developing their business plan for the “Smorg” and moved it to the spring time slot. One look at this photo from the past and you can tell there is very little competition for the kind of entertainment that the choir offers their patrons at a “Smorg”. Like the choir itself, it is something unique to Thunder Bay.
This year I am told the choir sold to capacity over 900 tickets to this event held the first Friday and Saturday of May. If I have not been performing with the choir, I have been attending choir performances since I was a child in Terrace Bay, coming to the Lakehead to see my big brother sing with the choir. It is true that patrons of the choir have a long and loyal history with the choir. In the past when charter flights required a group to sponsor the flight, the FWMC loaded up all the empty seats with patrons who were all of a sudden associate choir members. The memories of these trips live long in both the patrons and the choir, and the choir discovered that this was an excellent tool to build audience relations.
To-day flight regulations are not the same and most travel is discounted. When the spring concerts no longer were attractive the choir innovated and used the “Smorg” as an audience relation tool. It sure works. During the meal the choir members serve their patrons, renewing acquaintances and entertain their friends. It is a fair bet that most of those who attend the “Smorg” will purchase “Prelude to Christmas” tickets next season.
There is the special gift that comes from sharing food together. Believe me in 38 years the DaVinci meat ball has not changed a bit. But sharing good food (even meatballs) friends and comical entertainment is a great way to appreciate your audience. Lindre Kearns said at this Friday’s workshop “If you neglect your core supporters (friends) then you will soon lose them.
Lastly moving of the “Smorg” to the spring time slot gives the choir more time to prepare for this event. This season I am happy to say that the singing portion presented the choir in its finest form, and they have every right to be proud to be a member of Thunder Bay’s most unique choir.
This season the choir will be looking for a few good men. It helps if you can sing. Camaraderie, fellowship, and the joy of sharing your voice with other talented men will make it a worthy experience. Call Ken House or talk to any member of the choir.