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Chorus Dues?

I am doing some research for a friend.
Those of you who either direct or sing in a community chorus, do you have dues?  If you do, how much are they and how are they structured?
Those of you who direct or sing in a chorus connected with a symphony (NOT a paid chorus, an auditioned volunteer chorus), do you have dues?  How much are they and how are they structured?
Thanks folks!
Replies (22): Threaded | Chronological
on November 24, 2015 6:25am
I direct a 40 voice auditioned adult community choir. We've had the same dues ($35.00 per year) for over 20 years. Dues are deposited in a business account, and handled by myself and a member of the choir. We give free concerts (2 a year), and ask for donations that usually bring in around $300.00 per concert. We also have  a few long time members who contribute separately especially when funds get low. Hope this helps in your research. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 24, 2015 2:55pm
Richard, are you paid? If so, where do the funds come from?
on November 25, 2015 6:20am
Hi Anna,
I'm not paid. I share directing duties with another bass, and we simply trade "chairs" twice a year. For more information about our group, check out our website:
on November 24, 2015 7:02am
I sing in a cancer survivor choir and we have a monthly donation of $15.00 from Sept. through June.  That usually covers the pianist and any new music we might purchase.  It is deposited into a business account by the treasurer of our board.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 24, 2015 7:26am
Our 40-voice community chorus has $25 per semester in dues ($50/year). They've been that amount for at least 10 years. Dues help defray binder and music purchases, and licensing fees.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 24, 2015 7:28am
In broad strokes, chorus dues generally fall berween $30 and $100.  Depending on the chorus, these fees may be for a semester, year, or only for one concert cycle.  The higher fees are usually seen in the major metropolitan ares, and for choruses with large operating budgets of over or approaching $200,000 per year.  Choruses that hire orchestras of course have larger financial needs.  In my experience, most symphony choruses that are funded by major symphonies pay no dues.   Some choruses require their members to purchase or sell tickets to their concerts in addition to paying dues.  My personal preference is to keep dues low and encourage members  to contribute according to their means when they register for the chorus.  In my chorus, total contributions often exceed total registration fees.  We also have a policy of never excluding anyone from the chorus for inability to afford registration fees.
I have often mused that it would be fair to ask chorus registrants to donate the equivalent of one hour's wage to the chorus in lieu of registration fees.  Do you think lawyers, doctors and corporate executives would go for that?  Probably not, but it's fun to think about.
on November 24, 2015 7:38am
I conduct a 35-voice auditioned community chorus and our dues are $40/year. We give 2 main concerts a year and several smaller performances in the community. We rely heavily on donations from concerts as well as sponsors and donors. Good luck to you!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 24, 2015 9:03am
I am the volunteer director of a  non-auditioned 40 member, community choir.  We give two seasonal concerts  each year.  My members pay $5.00/month to cover the cost of our excellent pianist. We charge a small admission charge which covers the cost of music.. If we have other instrumentalists  or soloists join us we pay them a set fee. This seems to work and our concerts are well attended. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 24, 2015 12:48pm
I direct an auditioned community chorus. Membership ranges from 40-50 singers. Dues are $150 per singer per year. No one is denied membership for inability to pay dues, but often services in kind are arranged confidentiality through the treasurer. Most pay the full dues for the year at the beginning of the season, but others pay in installments. Dues cover a portion of the operating budget. We have normal expenses of score purchases, rehearsal facility rental, performance venue rental, ascap, bmi, and other performance licensing, printed concert programs, publicity, and professional staff salaries (conductor and accompanist).  We perform three concert cycles a year, and we host a biennial composer competition for high school, undergraduate, and graduate school composers. The expenses of the competition include prize money, accommodations for finalists, and honoraria for judges. On the "off" year for the competition, we perform a larger work with professional (union) players. 
Dues do not cover all of our expenses. We rely on donors as well. 
Mary Root 
DeKalb Choral Guild 
Atlanta area
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 24, 2015 3:33pm
I'm volunteer director of a 50-voice community choir. Our dues are $15 per month, sliding scale. No one is denied membership. The money pays rent, sheet music, occasional commissions, equipment, insurance, assists with childcare, web site, etc. We also do several performances per year and regular fund-raising (our cookbook, Recipes for a Song, has been very successful). Ad sales in our program help us out a lot, too. (Our program runs about 20 pages.) We also pay ASCAP and run their logo in our program.
Cynthia Frank
Mendocino Women's Choir
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 25, 2015 5:02am
The 110-voice, auditioned York Symphony Chorus (York,PA) is supported by the York Symphony Orchestra. No dues are required.
It would be great to read the results of your research here.
Kathleen Shannon
Chorusmaster - York Symphony Chorus
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 25, 2015 6:07am
Dues for my 40 voice community chorus are $50 per year.  As with many of the other responses, we will offer "scholarships" to anyone who cannot afford the dues.  When we established these a few years ago, we had some initial complaints (after years of no dues),  but most are resolved to the need for them (or have left the group).  We supplement our budget with program ads, donations from supporters (including many of the singers), and grants from local arts council and business sponsors of concerts.  We also have a endowment fund, thanks to a generous patron, which we use to fund special events and projects (like commissions).  All finances are the responsibility of our treasurer subject to the direction of the board.
Our budget runs around $30k per year.  Expenses include honoraria for me as director, our rehearsal accompanist, and a few small amounts for librarian and stage manager.  Other expenses: music purchase, ASCAP fees, guest artists, rental fees for rehearsal and performance venues, recording engineer, etc.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 25, 2015 7:37am
The symphony chorus I direct (volunteer, except for 4 paid section leaders, and not formally run by our city's symphony orchestra) has an annual dues fee of $350 (Cdn), payable in two installments in September and January. Our student fee is half price, $175. We produce on average two to three full concerts on our own, as well as providing the city's symphony with a chorus when needed.
on November 25, 2015 8:25am
Information about dues is included in Chorus America's latest Chorus Operations Survey Report. While it doesn't say how they are structured, it does have a number of crosstabs by chorus type and budget.
on November 25, 2015 9:26am
These replies reflect my experience as well.  Adrian Horn's summary, I believe, is accurate.
Another fund source I like to use is allowing members/friends/family to donate a line of text in honor of a friend or family member.  (Generally, it is a line
 that the singers will be singing anyway, or you may wish to do a whole song/piece, if the request is significant.). I particularly like donating in honor of a child, as this is something for their scrapbook/ memory for years.
Example: "Dona nobis pacem" (already in your program - next line, change font/ indent slightly)
"in loving memory of Kevin Smith, father of Sue Smith"
"She walks in beauty, like the night.."
in honor of Evelyn Jones, by her husband Joe Jones
It is a nice way of making your texts more warm and personal.  It is also a fundraiser with very little outlay of funds.  You just have to communicate and proofread carefully.
on November 26, 2015 4:35am
I'm in Australia, so apply your favourite currency converter to all the figures below. (Au$1 is currently equivalent to about US 72c)
(It's also worth bearing in mind that average wages are higher in Australia than the USA)
I currently direct three choirs.
Choir 1 (auditioned chamber choir, outer suburbs of a major metropolitan area): $300 per year, $270 concession (student/unwaged). Option to pay half-yearly
Choir 2 (unauditioned womens community choir, same community as Choir 1) $25 per month payable 11 months of the year (ie $270 per year), plus joining fee for new members and some other ancillary fees. "Social members" (generally former choristers who aren't currently able to sing with us, but wish to continue receiving communications and attend social events) pay $5 per month.
Choir 3 (auditioned community choir, medium-sized regional town): $210 per year, $170 concession. Option for trimesterly payments.
All three choirs pay their musical director on a per call basis, and all except choir 1 also pay a regular accompanist.
The first two choirs receive some funding from the local government authority.
None of the choirs are able to cover their entire annual budget from fees alone.
A while back I combed through the Guide To the Choirs of Melbourne website and compiled all the different fees charged by choirs in our metropolitan area. They vary wildly, from a number of choirs who charge no fees, to others who charge up to $600 per year, and spread fairly evenly between those extremes.
Some charge a weekly/per rehearsal fee (and they are the choirs whose annual cost creeps up towards $600 - it doesn't look so off-putting when it's phrased as "$15 per week")
Some charge fees on a monthly, quarterly or semesterly basis
Some charge an upfront annual fee for the year, and generally speaking the choirs in that category are in the lower half of the spectrum (the highest upfront annual fee I remember seeing in my survey was $400)
Most offered concession rates, some had discounts for paying a full year instead of paying instalments, some had various ancillary fees in addition.
There was too much variation in practices to describe any situation as the norm.
The determining factors are:
- your recurrent costs
- the reliability of other income sources (external funding, subscriptions, etc)
- how much your members are willing to pay, which will be impacted by
- how much your "competitors" charge
on November 30, 2015 3:52pm
To specifically answer your question about the symphonic chorus. Until about 10 years ago, the local symphony orchestra contracted various local choirs for their performances, and they had their own arrangements (most charged dues). Since then, the orchestra has taken over ownership of the main symphonic chorus (now rebranded as the MSO Chorus), and they no longer charge dues.
on November 27, 2015 10:12am
Hello Marie
My adult volunteer auditioned choir of 25 pay $100 dues for the year. After research in Phoenix, I found this the average yearly dues. These dues buy their music for the 9 month season (we do not rehearse after May - Aug)
and help sustain our rehearsal venue rental. They buy their own performance attire to keep, as well as provide their own folders. We sing 6 concerts a year, and a member signs  a letter of committment for the year. We ask each member to sell concert tix if they are able, but our tix do not sustain our expenditures. We perform in churches, retirement homes,, sporting activities, in school concerts, and sometimes professionally , like last year as Susan Boyle's concert back up choir. We are in our 9 th year and next year, celebrate our 10 th anniversary. Our mission is performing North American choral music and featuring a new commission annually by a young unknown composer from North America.
Our budget is small and the non profit is run by a volunteer singer Board of Directors.
Good luck, Carolyn Eynon Singers
on November 30, 2015 6:32am
I find this thread fascinating. We pay to sing! Which causes me to wonder..... do bands and orchestras charge dues to their players?
on November 30, 2015 11:28am
If instrumentalists play in a community band or orchestra, then yes, they do pay dues. I know several community orchestras who all pay dues and community bands  (it's been my experience community bands are often connected with a park district and they have a participation fee) often do as well. Professional choruses do not pay dues (unless it's a uniform fee or music replacement fee) just as professional wind ensembles and orchestras do not pay dues. 
I started this thread because there has been some question in our community about what other community choruses, in other communities do. And often symphonies (usually not in major metropolitan areas) may or may not have a professional chorus but a highly auditioned community chorus. We were wondering about dues for those kinds of groups as well.
Thank you to all who have commented here....keep those responses coming!
on November 30, 2015 9:08am
The community chorus I direct has about 60 +/- members, and the dues are $50 per semester.  The music comes out of that (and more than covers it), but with ad sales, donations, ticket sales, and dues, the annual budget runs about $13 - 16K per year.  I am paid and an accompanist is paid.
on December 5, 2015 2:34pm
I direct a community choir in Columbus, OH and our dues are $20 per session, I believe (we do three concerts a year).  They're free for recent HS and college students/grads given we rehearse at a local high school!
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