Black Tie Optional by Harry A Freedman and Karen FeldmanIn their book, ‘Black Tie Optional,’ Harry A. Freedman and Karen Feldman explain how to use celebrities at fundraising events…

“There’s no question that hitching a special event to a big-name star can attract attention to the cause and raise serious money. However, consider the other possible outcome: It can also spark a disaster of stellar proportions. Before deciding to tackle a celebrity event, consider the myriad hidden costs and requirements that come with it. While it’s possible it will be worth the extra effort, keep in mind that star power can create magic – or a black hole where the budget used to be.

Many celebrities are generous with their time and will agree to appear at a charitable event without charge. For a big-name star, that might mean a savings of $100,000 or more. Or does it? If the entertainment involves a professional athlete signing autographs, a comic doing standup, or a political pundit sounding forth, the logistics will be far simpler and the costs considerably less than bringing in a singer or dancer. The star may not charge for appearing, but the charity will still have to pay her 10-piece band to rehearse and perform (at $50 to $100 an hour per musician), not to mention transporting, housing and feeding everyone.

Then add in the costs of staging, lighting, sets, and props. That ‘free’ entertainment can wind up costing thousands of dollars. Again, look at the celebrity’s contract. It will contain a rider, which is a list of requirements for producing the show.

Those who have never planned a complicated celebrity concert before should spend the $500 or so to have an attorney look over the contract. It could save thousands of dollars later. Consider that stars normally have 20- to 30-page contracts, with riders listing their individual requirements for appearance. Each star’s contract also includes such things as the manner in which the must travel (usually first class); their accommodations (usually a suite); how many people travel in their entourage (anywhere from one to 30, including makeup artists, hairdressers, personal valets, musicians, tour managers, reiki masters, and psychics); the entourage’s travel and lodging requirements; what meals must be provided and what foods should be served; cancellation clauses; and anything else the star requires. Make sure the attorney who examines the contract is familiar with entertainment and contract laws. Another option: Ask the business manager of a regional theater to review it.”

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