Burlesque Etiquette with Jo Weldon: Sponsorship for Beginners

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Jo Weldon (Photo: Dallas PinUp.Com)

Jo Weldon (Photo: Dallas PinUp.Com)

We couldn’t think of anyone’s advice we’d rather take than Miss Jo “Boobs” Weldon, Founder of the New York School of Burlesque and author of The Burlesque Handbook, which is why we’re thrilled to have her as our Burlesque Etiquette contributor!  Have a question you’d like Jo to answer?  Please title your email “Etiquette- _your issue___” and send to editor [at]PinCurlMag [dot]com and we will send them right over to her!

Bringing sponsors on board for your events is a great way to share promotional activities and bring other people into your community.  A sponsor is an entity–usually a person or business–which contributes resources to your projects. Their resources can include, among other things, promotion of your event, in-kind donations, and cash. In return you support them with recognition and promotion.

For many of us, promotion is the most time-and-effort-intensive part of producing an event, once the artistic work is done. For this reason, you should think carefully about sponsorship, and whether or not what most sponsors can afford to offer is appropriate for you.

When approaching a sponsor, have a contract prepared in advance. Then contact them with a brief letter stating:

1) What you like about their product and/or their work.

2) A one-two sentence description of your event, with time and date.

3) Why you think they are a good match for your event: demographic, aesthetic, etc.

4) A detailed and honest list of what you can do to promote them, including expected attendance at the event.

5) How you will promote your event.

Thank them for their time and let them know that if this is not a good match for them at this time, you hope you will be able to work together in the future.

If they agree to sponsor you, immediately provide a contract. Be willing to negotiate back and forth once or twice, and no more. Know in advance what your top and bottom limits are.

Then:

1) Make acquiring the item your responsibility, and do not pressure them to ship at the last minute. If they are sponsoring with money, make sure you schedule to receive it well in advance and be wary of printing materials before you have received it, in the event that their plans or circumstances change and they are unable to sponsor you after all.

2) Make good on your descriptions of what you can do for them.

3) Make sure they get recognition at the event. Have their business cards out, if appropriate, and make sure the host mentions them and does not make jokes at their expense, rush over their name, or misrepresent them. Even if their donation to let’s say a raffle was smaller than that of other, honor their contribution.

4) Report to them afterward on what was done and how the event went.

5) Thank them for their time and let them know that if they are happy with the outcome, you hope you will be able to work together in the future.

Show respect to all your sponsors, and expect them to respect you, and you can build lasting relationships and community!

At The New York School of Burlesque, we have sponsors who give card-carrying NYSB students a discount on their goods, and often donate goods and gift certificates to our raffles and fundraisers. To get these relationships going, I literally walked into stores and said, “Hello, I’m the founder and operator of The New York School of Burlesque. I’m looking for independent and female-owned businesses with a community interest. I’d like for my students to support these businesses and feel part of a community, as well as be able to shop for fun and fabulous stuff. I know your business has things they will love, and I admire your business model. Would you be interested in being a part of the program?”

Invariably, they say yes. I collect business cards and flyers from them and hand them out to students in The Essential Burlesque Series, as well as giving them a handout with a list of merchants both in the city and online (my approach with online merchants is similar, but it happens in email). So far, so good!

As the author of The Burlesque Handbook, I am frequently asked to give copies of the book to raffles and fundraisers, which I am happy to do. However, many times the people asking don’t offer me anything in return. Even though I understand that they may not know that in order to sponsor them I have to order and pay for the book, I don’t understand what they get out of having the item in the raffle if they don’t mention it. I know from going to raffles that many emcees do not describe what’s in the raffle, or make fun of the items in the raffle, or rough up the things in the raffle bag. I don’t know if this can always be avoided in the rush of a show, so what do I want? Of course I really do want the emcee to show the book and hold forth about it, but keeping in mind that may be unlikely, and in some cases unreasonable, I would like acknowledgement somewhere, wherever it’s appropriate. On the show’s website, social media, flyers, or wherever they are doing such mentions. I don’t expect it to be prominent. I just don’t expect it to be invisible.

Having been both a sponsor and a sponsee, I’ve given this a lot of thought. Each situation is different, but as with all of my etiquette articles, the point is to think about the person on the other end of your etiquette practices. You may not necessarily know what they want, but in some cases you can certainly guess, and in the case of a sponsor, you can safely guess that none of them want to be ignored.

With a cash sponsor, you will have an actual contract outlining the responsibilities both of you have. But that is the subject of another article.

Bringing sponsors on board for your events is a great way to share promotional activities and bring other people into your community.  A sponsor is an entity–usually a person or business–which contributes resources to your projects. Their resources can include, among other things, promotion, in-kind donations, and cash. In return you support them with recognition and promotion.

Want to see more of Jo’s columns? Like a Boss: The Harem Trope,  Teacher/Student Dos and Don’ts, These Children That You Spit On: Established Performer to New Performer Etiquette, Stage Kitten Etiquette, Making Introductions: Emcee Etiquette,  Photos & Pasties, How to Annoy Producers, How to Annoy Performers,  I’m Just Saying, Headliner Etiquette – Part 1, Social Media Etiquette for Nearly Naked People

 

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