Ask the Experts: Studio Policy Revision

Q: I need to revise my studio policies and handbook. What kind of information should I put in each? I want to make sure I cover all my bases.

A: Think of your studio policies as your rules and procedures and your handbook as an opportunity to expand on those rules and discuss your approach to pedagogy. Your policies—essentially the terms and conditions between you and your customers—should be agreed upon at the point of registration. Typically, students or their parents/guardians must initial the registration form indicating that they have read and agree to the release of liability, medical emergency procedures, photography/video use, tuition due date, late-fee policy and refund or class cancellation policy. Be sure you feel comfortable standing behind any consequences noted, because you or your office staff will need to enforce or maintain them—for example, imposing a late fee.

A handbook, on the other hand, can help your students and parents better understand your policies while also orienting them to the studio. You can write a welcome message and share your studio mission and vision, as well as your expectations for general conduct. State your teaching philosophy, attendance expectations and makeup policy, methodology and criteria for classroom etiquette, and be sure to mention any testing or evaluations you require. It’s also useful to restate your important policies regarding tuition and billing that were agreed upon at registration. Since most of the information you put in your handbook should also be posted on your website or in a password-protected customer portal area, you can ask parents for their e-mail addresses at registration, explaining that all important studio information is sent digitally. When your students and parents are well-informed, it sets a tone of professionalism and helps students maximize their participation.

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.

 

 Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.