After watching Donald Smith speak in the video Cabaret and American Music–I posted it here–I wanted to share a great idea that he gave for opening up new cabaret venues. Mind you, he didn’t say it was always successful, but I like his spunk in going out and forging new ground, trying to open up some places for cabaret performers to work. This is the type of work that we in the cabaret performance field need to be doing.
Donald said, and I’m paraphrasing, that he would first go in and scope out a hotel, to see if there is a space somewhere in the hotel that could work for cabaret performance. Having determined that there is, he then meets with someone in charge at the hotel. He gives them the suggestions that they could put in a mini bar, a small sound system, and could seat 75 people or so. Then they hire local talent (ie–us!) so they don’t pay for travel or lodging of performers. The performers work out a schedule for playing there, and something could be worked out financially. The hotel gives the space open-ended to the performers. If the hotel would help a little bit and give some visibility, and if the artists worked as hard as they do with everything else, he said he could guarantee that with a good performer, within six months they’d have a room going and the performers would start to build an audience. He said, after presenting the proposal, that he usually next gets sent to the banquet manager for the hotel, who is usually very young and doesn’t have a clue what cabaret is. This is why it is difficult to make this idea work, but I think it could be worth a try. If any hotels say yes, there is a great venue.
It looks, since there are no true cabaret venues near where I live, that it is up to us to forge new ground and try to get some started.