I’ve been a fan of your blog, and I just met Sir Ted Bravo last month when he had a show here in our place.
Basically, Sir, I need some advice on how to organize a group of magicians?
I have a local group here in our place named “The Smile Factory”. We do have some members… I think we are around 15 members, but only 5 are active. Our group is more on close-up or corporate magic.
Well, Sir, can you give me some advice?
Thank you for your question. It is a serious question requiring a serious answer. Allow me to make a stab at it:
Gather a Core Group
1. To organize a group of magicians, the first thing you must do is to gather a core group of people who share your enthusiasm in magic and your ideals for a group.
If you have five to ten reliable talents willing to work with you, then you have the right ingredient to start a group. Since you have The Smile Factory, you already have your core group.
Just infect them with your enthusiasm, make your case, and sell to them the idea that forming yourselves into a group will benefit them and improve their skills as magicians.
Set Your Goals
2. Define your reasons for forming the group. Identify the group’s goals. Is it to promote magic, make money, have fun, or just have members hang out with each other for camaraderie?
When we organized IMC in 1996, we had a clear idea of what we set out to do: we wanted to spread the appreciation of magic in the Philippines and open new venues for magic performances.
Over the years, we have accomplished this mission. Whereas before, magic was stereotyped as an entertainment suitable only for “peryas“ (carnivals), today it is performed in classy venues. Our members often perform in posh restaurants, five-star hotels, large convention centers, casinos and elegant theaters.
In forming your group, the key is to show confidence in your cause. If you are timid about the goals, intentions and dreams of the group, you will not convince other people to support them.
Meet Often and Regularly
3. Conduct regular meetings. You have to decide what day of the week and in which place to hold your meeting. Choose a date/time that is convenient and a place that is accessible to the majority of the members. You need also to agree how often will the meetings be held. Will it be once weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?
Once your core members have decided on these concerns, stick to them. Don’t move dates or venues around. You will just sow confusion if you do this.
3. Make your meetings enjoyable and not boring. Meetings are dull only if nothing gets done.
Before every meeting, decide what business matters you want to take care of to make it productive. Create an interesting agenda (a list of topics to take up or actions to do) before calling for a meeting.
Members will not attend if you have nothing specific to do or discuss during the meeting. Some of the things you might do to attract attendance are lectures, showing each other new tricks, magic competitions, create a trick, video nights, etc.
Inspire Members to Attend Meetings
4. Call members to attend the meeting. Facebook announcements and text messages are all right as follow-up means of communication, but one-on-one contact trumps them all.
Speaking to a member in person to get his commitment to attend the meeting beats virtual and digital communication. It even beats social networking when it comes to eliciting positive response. If you wish, you can follow your person-to-person communication with a phone call, for good measure.
Make Guests Feel Special
5. When guests attend your meeting, make them feel welcome. Introduce them around and entertain them with magic performances. Let them experience the fun and friendship unique to your group, so that they will visit again and perhaps decide someday to join.
Take Care of the Money Matters
6. Money makes the world go round. It does fuel group activities and growth. Without money, you cannot reach many of your goals.
So figure out how much yearly dues to collect from members and build your group’s finances. The annual dues must be reasonable but not so low that the money you collect will not be enough to finance even small projects.
6. Give members leadership responsibility. You must identify who the group’s leaders will be (president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, etc.). You do this through an election.
Make sure you get the right people who will work for free and sacrifice their time (and even money) for the good of the group. You need dedicated people to advance your group’s agenda.
7. Never stop seeking to find ways to improve your group and, consequently, your magic. Be awesome and become so good that your community notices you. The more awesome the group becomes, the more it will attract membership, and the more it will grow in stature.
Nurse, feed and cultivate your group’s growth with excellence. Project a reputable image. Don’t pick fights with other groups. If you have to compete, compete with friendship in mind, not to destroy others. By doing this, you will command the respect of the community.
Grow and Expand
8. Continue to grow. Even when you have reached a certain level of growth, still keep trying to gain new members and infuse new blood and new talents into the group. Without new members, your group will stagnate, weaken and eventually disappear in an unmagical way.
So reach out to your community by distributing publicity materials like posters and invitations either online or offline. The useful online publicity platforms are Facebook and Twitter. Offline, you can go to colleges and ask to speak to hobby groups. You may also want to leave membership invitations on the school bulletin board.
If you think these are difficult tasks, wait till you have the group going. Expect to meet all kinds of problem that will test your will and wit. The brutal truth is, organizing is the easy part. The hard part is to nurture your group.
If you don’t conduct regular meetings, launch projects, stage shows and do more magic, your group will wither and die.
So do lots of magic as a group: public shows, charity works, guest appearances, theaters, restaurants, parties, family days, school tours, etc.
Remember magic is the core reason that brings your members together. Keep the magic going, keep it burning, and keep it alive—and you will be all right as a group.
Good luck and stay magical,