A year later, after an unusually low-turnout dance, I updated the
graph I made before and BIDA is also seeing a decrease recently:
It wasn't clear to me at the time, but it looks like it goes back to early 2016.
On Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 9:39 AM, Brian Appleberry via Organizers
> Our dance (Queen City Contras, in Burlington, Vermont) is definitely reduced
> in attendance. Some details:
> Our dance is once per month, on the first Friday, year-round.
> A graph of average attendance in the last 15 years shows a peak of 100
> exactly in the middle (2008 - 20010), with numbers around 57 on the edges
> (2003, 2016). The rise and fall have been gradual and symmetrical.
> I'm sure we could have better attendance if we had a perfect/fabulous hall
> and location, which we've never found. (As soon as I win the lottery I
> 14-1/2 years ago we switched from Saturday evenings to Friday evenings, due
> to venue problems. Saturdays had higher attendance, but lost more money
> because the hall was a lot more expensive.
> We have more competition than we used to. About 5 years ago the number of
> contra dances in Burlington went from 1 per month to 2 per month. Also,
> many dancers who dance in Burlington also dance in Montpelier, where the
> number of dances went from 2 (sometimes 3) per month to 4 (sometimes 5) per
> month, about 1 year ago.
> We have always supported attendance of children, by admitting anyone under
> 13 for free. I think this definitely helps. However, we have not had an
> "outreach" or in-school children's program since the founder of our dance
> was doing so back in the 1970's and 1980's.
> The quality of our performers (and cost of performers) was intentionally
> raised during the "upswing" years, and we were also able to put some money
> in the bank at the same time that we started spending money on liability
> insurance and forming a nonprofit corporation (to help protect the board of
> directors, in the unlikely event of a law suite).
> We have continued to keep the quality of performers high, but we have now
> drained our bank account, moved to a less expensive venue, and just started
> reducing the average quality/cost of performers, in order to stay afloat.
> I don't know all the answers, but I am convinced that the key will be in the
> younger generations. (I'm 67, so I'll be dancing for only another 20 years
> or so!)
> -Brian Appleberry
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