"Oh, nonsense," everyone says. "You say that every year, but you end up doing it all over again."
But this year's different. The way they handled my salary for directing really bothers me. I've mentioned it before, but because they were worried about ticket sales, the Treasurer of the group hijacked the first day of my full rehearsal on the stage of the theater, a week before the show was to open, to announce that ticket sales were low and we might have to cancel the second week-end or not pay some people.
We got through that, but a few days later, he announced he wouldn't be paying anyone until after he had collected all the bills. Then and only then, he'd make a decision. This was a departure from how things are usually handled, as the last performance is usually the day that I get paid, along with the musical director, choreographer, and musicians.
This meant that I was put in limbo until a full week after the show closed. I received a check for the full amount on Saturday. Before that, no one bothered to contact me to let me know that the check was coming or that it would be for the full amount. Nothing.
Look, I don't get paid a lot for directing the show. It's $2,000, which may sound like pretty good money, but then factor in that the group rehearses for over three months and they also ask me to do a lot of their publicity. For example, I did the entire audition campaign, and even while in the thick of directing, I was asked to drop everything and arrange for publicity photos last minute. The PR person they have is clueless, and it was disturbing to me that my audition campaign still had more web hits than the actual show performances even a week before the show opened. Also, because of low sales, once I could focus on marketing, once the show was up, I created a whole daily Facebook and email campaign for them to help increase sales...which worked very well, by the way.
When you add all that up, I actually get paid less for my efforts than I would working at McDonalds.
It's not just about money, of course, although it does help with summer vacation.
But the thing that really burnt my cookies was what I discovered from my musical director, after the fact. He told me he spoke to the Treasurer, who admitted to him that he only threatened to withhold salaries because he wanted people to freak out and sell more tickets for the show!
That just doesn't fly with me. That threat really only affects directors and musicians. So what he's really saying is that he was trying to rattle our cages. And that to me is not fair, after all the years I've served the organization. I find it extremely disrespectful. I don't need or deserve to be manipulated like that.
So, it's time to do something about it. Not make a big deal, not do anything dramatic. Simply remove myself from the situation, that's all.
The day after I received my check and cashed it, I asked the guy who handles the Google group to take me off the list. Quietly. I asked him not to mention it to anyone.
If they ask me to do PR for them in the future, I'll say that I'm willing to, and then quote them an hourly rate for my services. Of course, I'd discount that rate for them, but I would ask for an up-front check.
And, if they ask for me to direct next year, I already have an attorney I've contacted who is going to share with me a contact they will have to sign. Plus, it has to be a show I like or feel passionate about. Something that will be meaningful for me to do, too.
What I want is more peace of mind. I don't want to be dicked around. I want to respect what I do a little more than they have, and not feel that they don't really appreciate what I provide. And if they don't want to go along...well, no problem. There are other projects I can get involved, with other groups.
This is the next change I'm going to make in the months ahead. There will be others!