Burlesque Festival Applications – An insiders guide

It’s that time of the year. Festivals are opening applications left, right and center for the 2018 year and we’re scrambling around to find our best footage, get updated promo shots and apply by the deadline. On my previous blog “Burlesque Festival Selection Process – What do producers look for in applications?” I discussed the considerations that producers have to make when selecting performers for their event.  In this blog I’d like to give you some insiders tips on how to go through the festival application process while addressing a little bit of what not to do.

1. Read the terms and conditions
This is really important. Why? Because it will generally tell you everything you need to know about application deadlines, when they will let you know if successful or not, if there is any honorarium or other benefits to performing, if there are any time limits or exclusions, if you need to sign a performer agreement and more. This should be your first stop when applying to a festival, and before you go asking questions to the producers about the event. Chances are the answers are here. Don’t bother the producers with questions unless you cannot find the answer yourself. We hate answering questions that could easily be found on the website.

Be aware that each festivals terms are different. If you don’t agree with them, then don’t apply. Don’t go bitching about it either. These have been set due to the business nature of the festival and there may be varying circumstances that have affected the terms being introduced. You are not privy to that information (nor entitled to it) and bitching about makes you look like a dick. Terms are generally non-negotiable and if you can’t meet them, then don’t waste your time or the time of the producers.

2. Follow the instructions
It’s so easy yet, so often ignored. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS!! For example; If it asks for three points for an intro, give three points…. Don’t be sending in an essay on your introduction as it won’t get used. Keep bios to the point and if you don’t have a website, link your social media page. That way if you’re successful, your performer page on the website will get linked to somewhere that the fans can find you! Finally, read the image specs required to upload. If you send a crappy low res image, that is exactly what will get printed in the programme and it will look shite next to those who actually supplied the right resolution..

3. Fill out all required fields correctly
Most forms will tell you if you’ve missed something, but check it as you go to be sure. Then check it again before hitting submit. Also check that your spelling is correct, especially on email addresses.

4. Check your video link urls
Make sure that your links work prior to hitting the submit button and that they are available publicly or unlisted. If it’s locked to a private setting, the producers won’t be able to look at the link. Use YouTube or Vimeo if you can. Avoid using things like Dropbox or Google Drive links, as this often requires the producers to download your footage. I can tell you now we aren’t going to do that… It’s a waste of our data.

Some festivals will take rehearsal footage but if you do send rehearsal footage then make sure you give a good description accompanying it, especially if it’s not the final costume being used. Same with if the act is in development; the more we know the more we can make an informed decision as to whether the act is suitable for the event.

Finally… don’t send a show reel! We want to see the act that you want to perform, not your best performances highlights.

5. Pay the fee
Depending on how the festival has set up the application, you may have to click outside of the application to pay your fee. Often this is PayPal and will come with a receipt from PayPal. Check your emails for the receipt. If you are not sure, double check with the festival producers that payment came through.

6. Make a copy of your answers before you hit send
On the occasion, websites experience glitches. It may be the internet connection. It may be the server. It may be just the “dumb-ass factor”. As a precaution, before hitting submit, copy your answers to word, so in case it doesn’t work, you can just copy and paste it back into the form saving you some time and frustration.

 7. Why not apply to run a workshop
Workshops are a great way to make a little extra spending money while at a festival so if you do teach, or could teach, then why not pass on some of that knowledge as part of the festival? After all your target market is going to be located at the one place. Points #1 to #3 and #6 above all apply. However I’ll add to this, in that you should be reasonable about time frames to deliver your workshop in and how much you charge. Reason being is that a festival may have many workshops and has limited times to run them. A two-hour workshop is going to take up a huge chunk of that so keep it to 90-minutes tops, an hour is better though. Also, because there are so many workshops being offered (theoretically) you want to attract as many people to yours as possible and give them more bang for their buck. Festival attendees often come on a limited budget so if you’re workshop is highly priced, chances are they’ll take two others that a cheaper that a single expensive one. You also don’t want to be pricing yourself higher than a headliner workshop because you won’t even get on to the schedule. Remember that for many people festivals are a development opportunity and often a community event. Workshops are about sharing knowledge and that should be your primary goal, secondary to making some cash.

So there it is folks. If you follow these items, you should have an easy breezy festival application experience. I’d suggest reading the Festival Selection Process blog too as it shows you that burlesque festival selection is not just about “the best of the best of the best” and any one at any level should apply.  And when you’re done with that, why not apply to  our own New Zealand Burlesque Festival. Just click here to apply!


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