Annual music budgets?
Date: January 21, 2014
I'd like to hear from other Music in Worship community members what annual music budgets they work with. I'm hoping that hearing from others will help me put my situation in perspective, and also perhaps serve as a reference point when it's time for me to negotiate next year's budget with the church's Finance Committee.
My situation: I accompany and co-lead a (currently) 18-voice choir at a small United Methodist church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The choir sings at 3 Sunday services per month September-May, plus seasonal services such as Christmas Eve. Like many smaller churches, ours (avg. Sunday attendance +/- 125) has faced some tough budget challenges the past few years - in fact, one year recently, the choir was allotted a zero budget. This past year it was $300. We have managed to "keep it fresh" for choir and congregation alike by supplementing our music budget with "directed giving" donations (mostly by choir members themselves), and by purchasing some thrifty anthem collections as well as octavos. Our goal each year has been to present new music for roughly two-thirds of our services, using previously-sung material for the other Sundays - but in the last 2-3 years it's been more like 50-50 or one-third new material. While it is a herculean task to find music that this choir can present really well (it's a no-audition, volunteer choir with just 3 singers who are musically trained and truly capable, everyone else with limited ranges & abilities, an average age pushing 60, and only 1-2 tenors depending on whose bifocals are working :), we spend a big chunk of every summer researching music that suits their abilities, interests them and helps them grow musically and spiritually, and presents a meaningful, quality experience for the congregation. Part of the budget struggle is that until a leadership change 7 years ago, very little new music had been purchased for the choir for an entire decade, and some decision-makers who remember that still can't understand (though we have explained it many, many times) that "just singing what we have in the file cabinets" is not a viable solution.
So ... what music budget challenges are others facing? Or not? Suggestions? Any feedback you can provide will be most welcome. Thanks!
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