Q: How do I set the prices for a guest artist to come to our studio to teach? By the time I add up the costs for travel and the artist’s fee, it will cost each student $70 for an hour-long workshop. Is this too much? How do you charge an amount up front when you don’t know how many students will enroll?
A: Guest artist fees do vary greatly based on experience, popular demand and travel expenses. Seventy dollars would be cost-prohibitive for a one-hour workshop, regardless of the teacher’s credentials. We recommend you find a way to set a fee that you know is reasonable for your clientele and takes into consideration the overall experience for the money invested. You could increase the value of the workshop by having the guest artist offer a question-and-answer session. You could also negotiate a lower total fee if you group dancers by ability (versus age), to reduce the number of hours the teacher is on the floor. Ask the guest teacher if he or she would be willing to set a lower fee if you also book private lessons to set choreography for solos, duos and trios as potential extra income.
While you cannot guarantee enrollment, you can create an incentive for students to register early by offering a lower price for early registration and by also limiting class size. Guest teachers are usually paid at the end of their visit; however, some may ask for a deposit to secure a date. Don’t pay anyone the full amount in advance unless you know his or her reputation and have a contract in place. Check out the teacher’s references to confirm reliability, and make sure they have liability insurance. Some guest teachers have their own contracts and stipulations, and you should have the same. Put terms in the contract that address issues such as a cancellation policy and who arranges the travel.
Exposing your students to new teachers often inspires their commitment and adds excitement. The time and effort it takes to bring guest artists into your studio can be a worthwhile investment when you get creative with ways to set a fair price.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.