The entire food and beverage industry including event planners and activity professionals are always looking for new and innovative events, musicians and programs to set themselves apart from their competition. The big question is… where can you find them and will you be able to afford it?
Calling a nearby talent agency seems to be the easiest and most logical way to secure entertainment. But, we all know that this usually comes with a sizable price tag and many times it’s not worth the extra money. Below, I’ve outlined the many places and spaces you can find inexpensive, quality programming and entertainment in your own backyard. I’ve used real examples from Huntersville, Charlotte, and North Carolina. Chances are that these very same examples (with different names, titles, etc.) exist in any other area of the country.
To find ideas I gobble up all the local papers, magazines and newsletters I can find to hunt down local talent and event ideas. Yes, even the cheesy local paper with the entertaining “crime beat” section and magazines most households would toss before even cracking them open. I am amazed at what my own community offers in programming and entertainment. I found that the majority of the events and programming is coordinated by local parks and recreation departments, community centers and libraries.
Below are the many publications in my own area from which I have cut out or photocopied event ideas, band names, informational articles, etc…
- Huntersville Herald - local small-town newspaper (entertainment section)
- Lake Norman Magazine (community calendar)
- Charlotte Parent (local talent ads & feature articles)
- Today’s Charlotte Woman (local talent ads & feature articles)
- AAA’s Go Magazine (free if you are a member)
- Huntersville Park & Recreation Newsletter
- Ice House (Local Arts Center) Newsletter
- Carolina Country (”junk mail” - free in the mail)
- Blue Ridge Outdoors (free at newsstands)
- Carolina Sports Link (free at newsstands)
- Our State (magazine subscription)
- Blue Ridge (magazine subscription)
So far, I’ve uncovered a wide variety of information. Below are just a few things…
- Alternative local summer camps (arts, science, living history, Civil War) which can be utilized as a Saturday afternoon program (found in the entertainment section)
- 10+ local bluegrass, country, rockabilly, old time and jazz bands (found in community calendar)
- Gold Panning with local historian (library newsletter)
- Free Line Dancing Lessons (found in community calendar)
- Names of local writing, gardening and flower arranging experts (found in entertainment section)
- Mock crime investigation scene program for teens (library newsletter)
- $6 North Carolina Quiz Book for poolside trivia (Our State magazine)
- Arts and craft program for making thank-you or holiday gifts for teachers (Charlotte Parent)
I’m sure you are thinking, I don’t have time to find all these papers and newsletters AND read them! May I suggest…
- Subscribe to local or state magazines
- Get on local arts, science, museum or community center mailing lists
- Pick up free entertainment guides or specialty publications at area grocery stores, your child’s school, health club, spa (the places you normally go to)
- Don’t throw away junk mail if it pertains to what’s happening in your area
Grab your reading pile when you need a break from the computer or it’s a rainy day and things are slow at the club. I guarantee that you will spend less than 30 minutes browsing through the above information if you know what you are looking for. When you find it, cut it out or photocopy it and start your idea binder. You may not use the band or idea for months, but at least you’ve got it in your back pocket.
Utilizing local talent will eliminate the middle man, be cost effective and many times give your event the uniqueness you are looking for.
Cindy Williams, Corporate Director of Activities and Events, East West Partners Club Management
Thanks and have a great day!
This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.
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