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Word of mouth is always a good way of publicising a club - at the end of every concert ask members to bring a relative, friend or neighbour along next time, perhaps at a reduced admission price or even free for the first time. Stress the importance of your request, after all, they can see the drop in audience numbers for themselves so they have to realise the future of their concerts depend on more people coming along. New people are out there, you just need to get them through the door and many are hooked from just one visit.
Could the concerts be held in the afternoon? The majority of people who attend are retired and many would enjoy an afternoon out at a reasonably priced concert accompanied by tea/coffee and a bun (at extra cost). Lovely! After all, local theatre matinees audiences are mostly retired people. Kevin Grunill (Penistone Theatre Organ Trust) has very successful weekly concerts in Barnsley.
An afternoon concert with tea/coffee and cakes is a definite draw, particularly in the winter - with a separate cost for cakes because not everybody eats them.
Busing people in from local residential/care homes has been tried - would this be more successful with a daytime concert?
Perhaps make concerts less formal by not having chairs in neat rows, put out a few tables to sit round if there is room, maybe choose a venue with a bar, organise a daytime concert around a ploughman's lunch, make it a more 'social affair' by having tea/coffee available before the concert - a relaxed audience creates an easier atmosphere for the artiste to work with from the very start of the show.
Beware of the often suggested option of moving concerts to Sunday afternoon. Yes - older people might attend, but it might put off 'younger' people who might prefer an evening out. If younger people (e.g. middle aged) see a room full of only old people then they might not return.
Have concert tickets available in advance at a discounted price (or add a surcharge to the cost of admission on the day). The cost of printing on a home computer is minimal and would probably be offset by the income generated by a larger attendance - consider how many people would prefer to take advantage of the preferential price and therefore how a few spots of rain may not have such an adverse affect on future attendances.
How do we encourage people to take and put up posters for us? How about get them to take posters, if they post it somewhere new - legally - take a photo of themselves with it (I believe the youth of today call this a selfie!!), show the photo with details of where it is at the next concert they attend and get £1 off admission.
A raffle ticket for a good prize (e.g. up to £50) is given to all attendees of a meeting. The draw is only held at the next/subsequent meeting (so if you don't attend the next meeting then you can't win).
Set up an email network with members who have an address, to be able to remind them of upcoming concerts and other information.
Committee members need to 'think outside the box' and realise this is nearly 2020, not 1975. Not all clubs are failing, those who are doing well are often ones who have embraced some change.
Select the entertainment a little more carefully. I wouldn't like to sit down for two hour concerts listening to 40 marches no matter how well they are played. My preferences were probably established in my late teens and early twenties and consequently the music I enjoy relates mostly to that period - yet there is still plenty of more recent music which can be enjoyed, especially, as mentioned earlier, from film theme composers such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone and the late great John Barry. Furthermore, YouTube can be a terrific source of music. We are also happy when a player introduces a delightful piece of music that has not been heard at any of our previous concerts. A few artistes are capable of achieving this and they are therefore likely to receive more bookings than those who do not seem able or willing to adapt.
Organists need to up their game and not keep playing old music. The assumption that appears to be made by some organists is that if their audience is old - so they must like music of the 30s and 40s. Consider this: for somebody who is 70 - then then they were born in 1949 and their music is actually the of the era of the Beatles; An 80 year old was born in 1939 - so was 1 year old when Moonlight Serenade was released... Younger people will not stay if organists keep playing old music - even though a lot of it is actually very good.
The pool of organists is decreasing, there will only be more if they get well paid. DO NOT - as some clubs do - try to negotiate the organists fee down (usually by pleading poverty). If the organists do not make a profit, then they will give up performing which will make the pool of organists even smaller.
Organ society fees are too low. If you charge a low fee then you are effectively saying that the entertainment is of low value. But maybe give cheaper entry to people over 75 or 80? (also people with student's cards - if you can persuade them to come along?)
At the last concert we had a group who were visiting their relatives, who are on the Committee, they came for a meal and stayed for the concert, they had never been to one before. We were a bit dubious and thought they may leave after the first half, but they thought it brilliant and are going to come again next year and make sure it is on one of our concert evenings – result!
We will fight on!