English Ceilidh (ECeilidh)

Funding for ceilidhs, etc (longer than a long thing)

Originally posted toECeilidh byFee Lock 9 Jul 2002. She credits Anthony John Allen of the South East Folk Arts Network. This is an amalgamation of advice, information and experience from lots of people in different areas.

Firstly, funding:

District and County Councils

Typically around £300 to £500 from small grants schemes.  Most councils have a community arts or community development officer or something similar. Contact yours and try to meet them. The project should benefit the community of the district or county as appropriate. If you are doing any schools work they should certainly be kept in the loop. Brighton & Hove council provide an online resource for funding sources and advice, including links to funding sites - http://www.community.brighton.co.uk/funding/[Dead Link] , so you might find your own council has something similar.

A4A Lottery (Awards for All)

£500 to £5,000.  For an application pack phone 0845 600 2040.  This is targeted at Community Arts/Heritage and amateurs and is the easiest money to apply for. You will need a referee, I've been one, and your council arts officer should give advice and help. Matching funds are not necessary, but help. Remember your own work on the project can be counted as support 'in kind'. You'll also be taken a lot more seriously if you put in a bid for your own time.  Roger Watson of TAPS & Boka Halat could tell you all about that.

Charitable Foundations

Usually no limits, but they may give a mean value of past awards as an example. A good starting point is  http://www.acf.org.uk/ ,which has a link to most major charitable trusts operating in the UK. For local charitable trusts talk to your council, sometimes they even administer a local bequest. Each trust has its own criteria and target aims, so some research is required to find the ones appropriate.

Business Sponsorship

Amounts depend on size of business and what it's worth to them. 'Arts and Business' run good one-day workshops on chasing business sponsorship which cost around £50.  http://www.aandb.org.uk/[Dead Link] . Our Arts area, South East and South, have a grants line specifically for helping you attend workshops like this, including cost of travel and childcare. I went on one a few years ago and it was very useful.

Businesses will make charitable donations as well as provide sponsorship. Be clear what you are looking for - if you are approaching as a charitable cause be clear on the benefits of your proposal. If you are asking for sponsorship you are selling a publicity opportunity to them - be clear on the benefits to them and the amount of publicity and exposure they get. Arts & Business say anything under £500 is a charitable donation, but will themselves provide matching funds. Sponsors don't want to know what you spend their money on. Local businesses may contribute small amounts if you have regular dealings with them. Sponsorship in kind and product placement are also worth asking about.

Regional Arts Boards

Currently up to £30,000 per year under RALP, small sums also available.  The RAB's share a common web site with links to each region -  http://www.arts.org.uk/[Dead Link]  - RAB's have two funding streams.

Treasury funded

Each RAB will have it's own set of schemes, and these will usually be targeted at specific purposes. This usually includes a line for skills development and training. Workshops attended must be of a suitable professional standard. Enquire about what schemes they have and get on mailing lists. Start to get a 'track record' with them by attending open meetings they host. Structural development of your group comes under this stream.

Lottery Funded

General Arts and good causes money administered by them under the Regional Arts Lottery Programme. This is serious money and will involve a lot of work both during application and monitoring the results. You MUST talk with the appropriate arts officer in your RAB first (there should be a dance officer). It helps to have done something else first so that they know you can handle the project. They will not want to spend their time on a RALP proposal for less then £1,000, but what you ask for should be commensurate with what you plan to do and must have some professional involvement. Professionals must be paid the going rate.

These grants can run for up to 3 years. RALP II is about to come to an end but will be replaced with something very similar - quite possibly RALPIII. RAB's are there to support the arts and this means creativity. The key words are Contemporary Practice and Cultural Diversity. They will not support something that is clearly heritage or the preservation of tradition.

However, it is important to remember that Folk is contemporary and inclusive in that it is performed within the community, goes to great lengths to be accessible (being performed often for free and in public spaces) and is constantly evolving. The South and South East are the two poorest RAB's. Note also that the South, South East and South West regions are being reorganised into two regions. Consequently contacts and addresses for South East Arts may change rapidly over the coming months. If you are doing this in this area it's worth talking with SEFAN before approaching SE Arts to find out the state of play. You can do that through Anthony John Allen at brokenankles@btinternet.com.  This information comes from Trevor Mason, our (South East and Southern Arts) Music Officer.

Actually Running a Ceilidh/Series

A good idea is to speak to those who's been doing it for several years. I did this last year before we started the Haywards Heath (and a couple at Worthing) ones. I wrote a piece for EDS a couple of months ago but in essence you need a good-sized hall on or near a trunk road with a nearby car park and good public transport links.

Mostly that's why they're in towns or cities although there are plenty out of towns. Get in good beer - either do the bar yourselves, in which case you get to keep the profits *but* you'll need to investigate having a license (local licensing officer is a good start) - or get the managers to buy in a barrel or more of the local stuff. They'll probably demur at this but it's worth persisting. While you're working out how to get some money up front you'll need to work out how much to charge. Current rates are about £6 - £8 and you may want to consider concessions or preferential (money-up-front) membership.  This will depend on how many people you have working with you to administer this.

I think Lawrence at Godalming had people coming in tonight on advance tickets and buying next month's on the door. You'll need to have about £1000 for each ceilidh:  £400 - £600 for the band when you add their expenses to their fees; the caller may not be included in that. You may need up to £300* for the hall because you need it from around 6 - 7 pm for the band to set up (the Committee Band and Tickled Pink, for example, will probably want to get in a couple of hours beforehand); the gig will finish anytime after 11 then you'll need an hour to crash the gear; all in all you might be paying for up to 7 hours or part thereof and it'll cost more after midnight. Think of the poor old caretaker on the minimum wage who has to clear up after you!

Some halls charge by the evening, others by the hour or quarter-hour after midnight. *  This works out at about £42 per hour for 7 hours which may include the bar staff, duty or security manager, hall insurance, etc. When you start up you may be in competition for the hall's availability with other more established events and until you can prove your economic worth you may have to take whatever date is free. This means you need to check with other organisers, sometimes those quite far away, so you don't clash. At the Meltdown Ceilidhs in Haywards Heath we don't want to clash with Oxfolk, Godalming or the Megabops.

Check out a map some time to see the distances involved in that and do the equivalent for your area with the help of the most excellent Webfeet.  People may travel up to about an hour and a half for a good ceilidh (me, I'd go a lot further to see a new band, but hey). If you've been running them for 25 years you can afford to say they're on the 3rd Friday of each month, but otherwise you'll need to put some thought into advertising them in a particular way until they get into the heads and diaries of your customers.

Advertising:  I like Gordon's comment of, "Advertise, advertise, advertise, and in between times, advertise". I spent most of last year sticking flyers to the walls of every toilet in every festival and ceilidh I went to, as well as e-mail lists. People hate spam so I went through my address book and picked out those I thought would be interested and only two people out of the dozens I wrote to said they wouldn't be interested in hearing about any more. You also need to target your advertising: who will be coming? Local papers; colleges; schools; local shops are often very helpful and cheap; burger bars where people might go after the dance - Haywards Heath gets leafletted to within an inch of its life by Penny Allen and John Bacon - folk mags, folk diaries, local folk networks. Morris sides, dance clubs; send info to all the bands and callers you want to book; agents; the hall's own publicity machine and keep your own mailing list.

The best advert is, of course, word of mouth. But you don't get that until everyone knows about it! Paying the band: when you start up everyone will very kindly offer to do you a booking for a reduced price. You may want to take advantage of this but you'll get a distorted view of how much it actually costs to run these things. Some people really worry about hospitality. Bands' requirements are terribly simple: They want good directions and a clear way to the stage door entrance; to be able to get in in time to set up and soundcheck properly; have loads of enthusiastic people to play for; a caller who'll show them off to their best advantage and some help at the end of the gig to carry out the heavy stuff to the van. A round of drinks would be nice but if you can't afford much hostility money match it with being prepared to go to the bar and don't forget your door people! 

And if they need to stay overnight most people, if given warning, are happy with spare beds, settees, mattresses and sleeping bags, with someone who's been to the gig - that's you - to join them in an apres-gig chill-out afterwards.  Sleep?  It's just so over-rated! In matching callers to bands you may want to ask each band if they have a wish-list and pick someone from there, or you may have just a few (or even one) callers who works the venue. 

You may need to be fairly well established - maybe five years or so - before your customers will come along to see a new name. If you're going to do this, which I think is an absolute necessity, indeed an obligation, you'll have to marry new names with established ones carefully and check with each party that they're okay with it. Some bands and callers work very differently. I always try to see a band I'm going to work with beforehand, get their repertoire, learn their stuff backwards and do the tunes *they* want to do in the order they think is best, but other people seem to do it by magic - Mick Brooks is one.

Finally, if it doesn't work, you're losing money and not enjoying it any more, don't be afraid to stop it. Some series dry up for reasons completely beyond your control - a new by-pass, the hall changing hands and becoming a restaurant, another one starting in a place that's easier to get to. Fee x