Last summer, I did a paint party for a local elementary school. Our school district is grossly underfunded and I know that our schools just don’t have a fair budget, so I was willing to reduce my price drastically to help them out. I’m also passionate about offering opportunities for children to get to participate in art because the art they get in school is... well, let’s just say it matches the budget they have. For example, for three years straight, my kids each brought me home a pinch pot and a snail made of clay, and sadly, that’s ALL they brought home.
We worked out a price the school could afford which was $10 per child, for a one-hour painting on an 8”x10” canvas. This program had 45 kids in it, so if you do the math, $450 per hour isn’t a bad take! One mistake I made last year is that I didn’t set a minimum or disclose the firm price if kids didn't show up. On the day of camp, only about 30 kids showed up. The staff painted along as well so I think I had around 35 paid painters, but I lost $100 in expected revenue. My tip to you is to confirm the number of painters and send the invoice ahead of time for the number they reserve.
A week or so ago, I received a call from another local elementary school that had spoken with the school I worked with last summer and she was hoping I could do a camp for her upcoming summer camp as well. When I agreed to the same rate I had offered the previous school last year, she was beyond excited! Not to repeat my mistake of last summer, I set a minimum. Because summer programs are so early in their planning, they don’t know how many children will register, but they do know how many they are expecting. This school is expecting 50, so I set the minimum at 45. That way, if a few don’t show up, they don’t feel like it’s money wasted, but I will definitely still make enough to cover supplies and effort.
Yesterday, the first school I worked with called me and said she wanted to have me out again this summer. She said the kids and staff just LOVED the “field trip,” and that she still had her painting hanging at her desk. I told her I was happy to come out again this summer. We had a longer conversation where she told me that they are so limited with what they can do with the kids because their budget is $15 per child, PER WEEK. You can imagine that there aren’t a lot of activities that you can do for that amount, especially if you have to transport the kids.
This got me thinking that our school camps really are desperate for entertainment for the kids and this would be a great opportunity for me to fill my summer calendar. Instead of having to figure out venues and try to attract families for my own paint camps, I could just call some other schools and bring art to the kids there. And, this has got to be one of the easiest kid’s events ever. The kids aren’t at a birthday party, so they aren’t hopped up on sugar from cake and ice cream! They are in a school setting so they are better behaved and with multiple teachers and chaperones there to keep them in line and help me with set up and clean up as well, so I don’t have to hire an assistant - even for 50 kids!
I checked out our school district's website and made a list of which schools will be offering summer child care. There are 4 schools in my district listed - 2 of which I’m already booked with. I called the 3rd school, and talked with the main office who sent me to voicemail for the before and After School Care Director, and I left a message. Within an hour, the director emailed me and was so excited to add this to her summer program. With a few emails back and forth, her school is now also booked for this summer. I left an email for the 4th school but haven’t heard back.
I did some more research and plotted out other districts I wanted to offer this. I also created a flier in Canva to send along with emails in case I didn’t find phone numbers. By the way, did you know that your Artsy membership benefits include access to our Canva pro account? We have tons of fliers already made for you to use so you don’t have to start from scratch. For login information, visit our membership benefits tab in the studio and get your copy of this flyer!
I sat down with a list of 12 schools in a neighboring district and set out to call the schools. I called four, I left two voicemails, and talked with one who asked me to email her the information. On the 4th call, I reached a program coordinator who listened to my intro and then asked me about cost. She then asked me if I was working with any other schools in her district, to which I said I had only reached one to whom I was sending information.
She explained to me that she has, in the past, worked with another local paint-and-sip chain who charged $25 per child pre-covid, but who have now raised their rates to $35-40 per child. She was so excited about my proposal that she wanted to book me for two sessions on the spot. Because that district has a lot more money than the one I live in, she wanted to book an event for 5-7-year-olds for $10 per child for one hour, and then a second day for the older kids for $20 per child for a 2-hour session. She also gave me information for the director over all the district summer camps and said they’d definitely want to book more schools, and that she’d let the director know to expect my call.
BONUS, she gave me specific other districts that she suggested I contact. I sent her information via email to summarize our plan, and then called her director, and left a voicemail. I received a call back within a few minutes and the director was very interested. She asked me to forward her the information but that she was in meetings all day and would get back to me the next day. She said she’d have to look into what it would take to get me into more programs because if they pay me over $10K then it’s a different type of contract. I’m not exactly sure what she’s referring to at this point, but, um, did she say over $10,000?
I wanted to clarify that figure with her but didn’t press the issue because she’s going to look into it on her side first but I was stunned! BUT WOW WOW WOW this would surpass my goal of an extra $1000/a month!
In order to work at these schools I need to we carry general liability insurance, which is one of our Artsy Benefits - I save money by not paying for insurance policies!
I'll let you know how it keeps playing out, stay tuned!