photo by Indra Hardi Saputro
If you’re asking someone to try something unfamiliar, you need to make the effort to take it to their home territory – don’t expect them to come to you.
When people join something new, they expect to walk into a room of people like themselves.
If you’re the only black person in a room of white people or the only woman in a room full of men or the only 20 year-old amongst the over 60s, then you’ll probably feel a little out of place.
If you’re trying to improve the mix and diversity of your choir – whether it’s trying to find more men, get younger singers, or reflect the ethnic mix of your neighbourhood – you need to get a whole bunch of the people you’re looking for or they won’t stay. If you recruit just one man in a choir of 60 women, he won’t stay long! Minority groupings need strength in numbers.
But recruiting outside your normal demographic is hard.
If you’re trying to recruit from groups who don’t usually come to your choir, then why should they bother to make the effort? Since they’re not members already there’s a good chance that it’s not part of their culture and they don’t feel like it’s for them. Just making them aware of your group’s existence is not enough to make people to come to you.
You need to take what you offer out to the places where the people you’re trying to reach hang out.
Go to existing clubs or gatherings such as the local Caribbean club or rugby club or youth club. Find out the sort of leisure activities your target group engages in and go there.
Take a pop-up workshop. Surprise people who are already gathered with a fun participatory activity. Make it short, sweet and effective. Do it again a few weeks later.
People you haven’t already reached won’t know how much fun singing together can be until they’ve tried it! So give them a flavour and hopefully they’ll want more.
Once you get a new group of people interested you might want to cultivate them on their own first. Maybe set up a few workshops just for them or start a singing group from their particular community. Later on, when they’ve got the bug, you might introduce the idea of them becoming part of your larger choir.
Be patient: changing the overall mix of your choir will take time.