Thank you all for the information on House Concerts! If others want to chime in I would love to hear from you.
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Tammy, We've both played house concerts and hosted a couple. The host usually invites people they know, or sometimes if they are an experienced "hoster" they have a standard email list of people they contact. So that sort of "stranger safety" is not a concern. On top of that, if advertised publicly some towns may have ordinances about public gatherings with admission fees - hence the "suggested donation." What you may run into (like we did at our house) is darkness, uneven ground, etc., etc. so we had "valet parking" for those who wanted it, by our son & friends. In a more suburban setting, be sure that they think about parking and how to do it. Be sure to invite the neighbors, or at least let them know what's going on.
Instead of the group charging a fee, the norm is "suggested donation" which in our experience is anywhere from $10 to $20 per person, depending on the location. The higher end was in metro Atlanta, the lower end in more rural areas. Just a large basket by the door with a sign will do the trick, and a generous introduction by the host reminding everyone (if they don't already know) that the performers don't get any other payment besides what's in the basket. Once in a while the host might need to keep some expenses (for example, if they had to rent chairs), but in our experience that doesn't happen - it's just part of "hosting."
Our friend Cathy Britell has written a nice article that brings up lots of points that may or may not apply to every situation or location - but they're things to think about, then "take or leave." Go to www.larkpoint.com
, then click on "Making the Music Happen" and "Hosting Concerts..." It's got some good suggestions from both the performer's and host's viewpoints.
We've always had a good time giving house concerts, met some really nice people, and made other contacts, so we're always happy to do them.
Hope this helps - Kathie