Saturday, 16 July 2011

A Different Audience

05:40:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , , , 4 comments

by Ashley Lister

Don’t take this the wrong way. And, if you’re a regular member of the DGPS audience and reading this, then you can be 99.99% sure that I’m not referring to you in the rant that follows.
But the truth is: I sometimes yearn for a different audience.

I’m not talking about a completely different audience. I’m not talking about every person who turns up at a Dead Good Poets’ gig. There are many people there whom I like and I want to see again and again. There are a few people there whom I love. And there are others that I’m always delighted to see even though I haven’t yet worked out whether I simply like them or whether I absolutely love them.

But I want to get rid of the cheap ingrates. I want to get rid of the tight-fisted skinflints. There are some parsimonious, penny-pinching pillocks who attend our events and I’d happily hurl them out of the door.

(NB – don’t get me started on hurling people out of the door. That’s another rant for another weekend. Seriously, who goes to an open mike poetry event to cause the sort of problems that merit them being physically ejected from the premises?)

The cheap members of the audience really annoy me. They don’t just want something for nothing. They want something for nothing, as well as the bonus added value pack of something extra for nothing to put in a doggie-bag and take home. And they also want to take advantage of the cashback offer at the same time. And all of this with extra sugar on the top. And a dollop of cream.

The Dead Good Poets perform free of charge. When you reflect on the quality of the writing, the diversity of talent, and the breadth of experience involved, that’s one hell of a lot of substantial entertainment that is being provided free of charge.

Yes, you might have to buy a beverage. It’s not compulsory, but we encourage purchasing snacks and beverages because the proprietors of the No. 5 Café are kind enough to host us for the evening and they have to pay for overheads such as heating, lighting, staff, insurance and all the other sundry costs associated with running a café. Increasing their takings helps keep them amenable to hosting our events.

But snacks and refreshments are the same price whether it’s an open mike night or not. And refreshments are the only cost incurred to audience members at a DGP event.

However, whilst the majority of audience members appreciate this is the bargain of the century, there are still some churlish curmudgeons who believe that free high quality entertainment should offer more value.

At a recent event I had one person ask me to help them find some outlets for their poetry. This is not an unusual or unexpected request. And I’m never averse to helping anyone if it’s within my capabilities.

My response on that occasion was, “Sure. Give me your email address and I’ll send through a list of links.”

“I don’t have email,” came the reply. “Can you print out the details and bring them to the next event?”

The short answer to that question is, yes I can do that, but it’s a huge imposition. Seriously, if you don’t have email, why don’t you go back to the middle of the nineteenth century and see if they want to read your poems there? Have you been writing your work on parchment, with a quill? Or are your poems chiselled on slate tablets in cuneiform Sumerian?

Another audience member observed that I’ve written novels. “Could I read one of your books?” the person asked.

I shrugged and said sure. The only people forbidden from reading my novels are minors and nuns of a nervous disposition.

“Would you bring me a free copy to the next meeting?” the person asked.

It’s not much to ask for, is it? I only worked for twelve months on that last title, and it was then edited by three professionals and a team of publishing industry specialists. Of course I’ll give you a free copy. Would you like me to gift wrap it in the shirt off my back? I might even find the time to come and kiss you goodnight after you’ve finished each chapter on an evening…

Don’t get me wrong. I adore our audiences. And the vast majority of audience members at the DGP events are fun to work with and make the performing poets enjoy the appreciation they deserve. But, if I could bring in a policy of barring the tightwads, it would be a different audience.


Ste said...

Ouch! Speaking as a tightwad, I have found myself out of pocket a couple of times and 'just there for the poetry man'. Totally agree though, venues are BUSINESSES and rely on custom to make it worth their while. I think I'm now 'down' with 21st Century technology thanks to this blog (send me some links!) If I can learn so can everyone else.

Oh, and Ashley? I'm now toying with the idea of buying your book for the goodnight kiss offer - you can keep the shirt :)

Lisa Gilbride said...

Dear Ashley,

Can I get one of those shirts?

Your #1 Churlish Curmudgeon

Ashley R Lister said...

Ste, I didn't have you down for a tightwad - and I'm so glad you're a member of this blog. I've now taken your order for one book and one goodnight kiss.

Lisa, I've taken the order for a shirt ;-)


Lindsay said...

Aha! It lets me post in firefox I haven't been ignoring everyones posts. I agree some people don't know when they are getting a good deal, no entrance fee, free entertainment. Great Post.