The beauty of hosting shows in alternative spaces is that there is so much flexibility in what you can do with the space - you are not defined by the traditional venue format. You can use your imagination, get crafty, and design as you wish! Even though the options are limitless, it is still recommended to be strategic with the set-up. Hosts are encouraged to have a plan for the space, and most often they have a vision for how it should look. But don’t be shy to ask (nicely) for what you need to feel comfortable on stage. 

When creating a show in a space where performances don’t normally happen, there are a few things for both Hosts and Artists to consider: 

  • What is the capacity of the space and number of tickets you are selling? Ensure that no matter where you put the stage you will still have room for all your guests. 

  • Where is the main entrance going to be for the guests? You may want to avoid placing the performance area too close to the door, if you have that option. 

  • Where is access to electricity? If the Artists are plugged in, identify where the outlets are and whether you need extra extension cords. If you are using extension cords/power bars, make sure they are either taped down, tucked away, or hidden under area rugs to avoid tripping

  • Lighting - think about lighting for the performance and how that factors into your setup (are you using mainly lamps? Do you want to hang twinkly lights?) Turn off any other lights in the space that you won’t need for the performance to set the mood just right. 

  • If you are going to offer snacks/drinks, make sure to set up an area for this away from the performance space (ideally in a separate room)

  • Is your show seated or standing? See our article regarding capacity in seated and standing shows.

  • Does the performance area have enough room for you and your group? Or too much room? Adjust accordingly, and ensure there is breathing room between the ‘stage’ and the audience.

  • Ask the Host if there is a table available to sell merchandise. 

  • Make sure the PA isn’t too loud. Play the loudest part of your set in soundcheck and ask the host (or any friends around) if it’s a comfortable volume, and adjust accordingly.

  • Ask the Host if they have turned off phones, alarms, or any timers that may interrupt the show. Ask the Host if they are doing any introduction and whether they will remind the audience to silence their devices. 

Do not be late for load-in and soundcheck so you have enough time to modify the space and make it great. For more on setting up for a show, see Host Best Practices

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