Dance $ Sticker Shock $
In the business world of dance a lot of things go on behind the scenes that the average dancer is unaware of. First off before I continue, let me state by saying I'm not defending anyone or studio.
The actual business portion of dance is a financial venture. There are overhead costs that eat at a business’s net worth. Tuition and Fees help cover those overhead costs. Overhead costs can consist of a number of things ranging from:
- Registration Fees
- Gym Rental Fees
- Dance Studio Rental Fees
- Music Fees
- Team & Solo Competition Fees
- Internet to communicate and send billings
- Loan fees and interest payments
- ...and more
Tuition and fees are the glue that help keep your studios operational. Since most dance studios don't have grants available to them unless they are an accredited institution, it becomes necessary to charge fees to help cover the overhead. There really isn't any profit gained out of the fees. Yet fees are a necessary component to any dance studio. Tuition alone just doesn't cover it.
Billing and Contracts
A parent signs a contract at the beginning of the year that says they agree to pay so much money, for so many months out of the year - for their child to dance. If the parent then receives a bill after the normal competition and/or recital due dates, it is important to make note that a lot of the reason you are charged at this time is to cover overhead costs that are charged back to the studio at net 30 and 60 days. It's just like a power bill. Bills for the current season can and will still be coming in 30 to 60, and even 90 days after dance has ended. Your student may not dance in the last month of your contract, but the overhead still exists. That is why you sign a contract for a set number of months.
When a studio is not able to collect their tuition and fees then it can become necessary for them to bring in a collection agency. No studio likes to do that. But it does happen in the business world. Unfortunately, when it does happen that bad debt is placed on an individual's financial credit record.
If you have sticker shock when you get your dance bill, it’s a good idea to:
- Communicate with your director. Ask your director to list the tuition charges separately from fees. Just seeing the fees listed separately helps to clarify the billing process
- Don’t let your bill pile up
- Don’t assume that if you pay your bill late that interest isn't piling up somewhere else. Someone has to pay it
- Consider how many dances you can feasibly pay for, before placing your child in classes
- Also consider that dance is a business, and like any business the rules are in place to make sure the business continues to provide a service in the future. Businesses must have a financial base to operate from
Communicate with your director. Ask your director to list the tuition charges separately from fees. Just seeing the fees listed separately helps to clarify the billing process
Opening your own business caught your eye?
The small business administration loan program has new business startup loans in the tune of $30 to $39 thousand dollars. If you are venturous and looking for an entrepreneurial venture - this might be your ticket.
I get it now! How can I help?
I know for a fact that the amount of pro-bono work that goes on throughout the dance season is often extensive. Pro-bono means work done for free. Yes, many of your teachers and directors have worked for free to help individual students continue with their dance studies, particularly when hardship has placed their families in a greater need.
Families who have suffered hardship and can’t provide an avenue for their child to dance can be awarded scholarships to help them until their families can meet their financial needs again.
Older dancers can be asked to assist in teaching in the classrooms to help offset their tuition and fee costs. Assistant teachers are probably the best thing since sliced apple pie, since many of them bring with them fresh ideas and choreography. While not for everyone, advanced dancers have a definite calling in this area.
Those items listed above are just a few ideas of how you can help. Teach, offer a scholarship to a needy family, build props, work with your director in financial matters, brings water and healthy treats for long events. Be creative!
Running a dance studio is a business, just like any other business. You have overhead costs associated with a dance studio just like any other business. Contracts have a purpose and need to be respected.
I wish all interested dancers success in their dance studies, and I wholeheartedly respect those who may opt out due to financial difficulties. It is very understandable.