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Uniform Policy for Youth Community Choir

We are in the process of redefining our uniform policy for the community choir I direct.  
Currently we charge a uniform fee (of $30) to help absorb the purchase of new uniforms.  Students may purchase uniforms "along the way," avoiding the need to pay uniform fees in subsequent years.  If students outgrow their uniform, we will make attempts to exchange their uniform for free if one is available.
What the board and I are proposing is this:  No more uniform fee, it is merged into the cost to be in the choir.  Uniforms remain property of the organization, and students may buy the uniform that is in their possession at the end of their tenure with the group.  The organization will clean the uniforms at the end of the year.  This means extra storage on the part of our choir, but we will likely have that available to us.
Does this jive with what is typically done with community youth choirs?  The one thing we haven't discussed is boys' tux shirts.  They often have only one year of use before they are unwearable.  Do boys pay an extra fee and keep their shirts, or do we just budget for that?
Thank you for any help you may send our way!
Garrett Lathe
Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota
Replies (4): Threaded | Chronological
on July 9, 2010 1:03pm
Hi Garrett,
We used to have a policy very similar to what you are proposing.  Last year, we decided to make a change.  It was a hassle to collect, clean and store the uniforms, and lug them back again to Summer Camp for fittings.  We also found that, at times, uniforms were not in very good condition when turned in.  Our new policy is basically this:  our Intermediate girls order their uniform directly from the uniform company, as do the Intermediate and Advanced choir boys who order cummerbunds and bow ties.  The parents can pay by credit card,and these items are shipped directly to the family.  The boys are also responsible for purchasing their pants and white shirts.  For the Advanced Chorus girls, one order must be placed, so our girls are fitted, and parents pay the Chorus directly; we then send one check to the uniform company.  Students keep their uniform for the duration of their time in the choir. When they need a new size mid-year, we do have extra uniforms in stock, so they can do a swap.  Since the uniform is theirs, they are responsible for the upkeep.  When we put this policy in place last year, we also did a reduction in the tuition, as we had built in the cost of the uniform. 
Hope this helps!
Trish Joyce
New Jersey Youth Chorus
on July 9, 2010 1:50pm
Interesting that Garrett's choir is moving in one direction, and Patricia's in the opposite!  Definitely points out why choir robes (or academic robes) were an awfully good idea back in the day.
For my univerisity show ensemble we covered all the costs of wardrobe and costuming, except for specific undergarments.  They traveled to shows in big boxes and were never taken home, and they were cleaned together by our Wardrobe Mistress at intervals.  We also had an iron and ironing board, and a steamer that traveled with us.  But the big difference is that we charged for our concerts, which is something not a lot of ensembles feel that they can or should do.  We put on a show that had commercial entertainment value, and was recognized as such both by our community sponsors and by the booking agents who would occasionally use us for regional or national convention entertainment.  So wardrobe was a normal part of our budgeting process.  My goal was that it would not cost anyone to be in our group, but that they would not earn anything from their participation either, making it the grownups' responsibility.
All the best,
on July 9, 2010 4:31pm
Slight correction.  We furnished all wardrobe except for specific undergarments AND DANCE SHOES.  The girls furnished their own hose, but we furnished dance tights died to match the costumes.  Bras were reuired.  The boys had to furnish their own dance belts and T-shirts torn down the front so as not to show.
on July 10, 2010 4:00pm
Hi Garrett,
We have singers purchase their own white mock-turtleneck top (a specific style & catalogue number from Lands End) and black skirt/pants from a uniform company. The chorus keeps a stock of vests which we have custom sewn in many sizes & clean at end of each season. The vests tend to stay clean & nicely pressed as we only allow singers to "don" them right before going on stage & they remove & hang them up immediatly after the concert (before reception!). This keeps things fairly simple and has worked very well for us.
Best of luck!
Carol Thomas Downing
Virginia Children's Chorus
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