Talent shows work for both primary and secondary schools, and children of all ages will have something to offer, whether that's singing, dancing, acting or other skills you may have never seen before.
- Two months before: Agree dates for the main show and auditions. Book a venue and recruit your team – you will need about 15-20 volunteers to assist with the auditions and to help on the night. You will also need some 'personalities' to act as judges and comperes.
- Six to seven weeks before: Send letters and registration forms out to all pupils, and specify that primary-aged children must be accompanied by an adult. Allocate time slots of two minutes for each audition over a couple of afternoons. Agree rules, e.g. whether pupils can perform more than once, as a solo act and again as part of a group. Encourage teachers and parents to enter, too – if only to allow the judges to 'buzz' them!
- Four to five weeks before: Establish what equipment you will need – microphones, CD player, lighting, amps, etc. Create posters to promote the event, and send letters home with reply slips for families to preorder tickets. Remember that the more acts you have, the more parents will attend, so get your performers to encourage their friends to come along to show their support! If you're planning to provide refreshments, state this on your tickets.
- Two to three weeks before: Organise the running order and send out invitations to performers with instructions, including their time slot, arrival time and where to get ready. Have a contingency plan in place for any no-shows. Provide your PTA volunteers with a more detailed running order, indicating what equipment (microphone, chair, etc) is needed for each act. Seek sponsorship or raffle/silent auction prizes from local businesses, such as dance schools, music shops, etc. Finalise what refreshments will be provided and who will be in charge of these on the day. If supplying alcohol, you will need a TEN.
- On the day: Arrive early to set up and decorate your venue. If you're running a raffle or auction, encourage guests to buy tickets or place bids when they arrive, then announce winners at the end of the event. Congratulate your performers for their efforts and distribute certificates to all those who took part.
- After the day: Have a post-event debrief to discuss what worked well and what may need tweaking for next time. Thank your acts, judges and volunteers after the event, and ask for feedback. Give details about how much the event raised and how this will be spent.
Download a print-friendly PDF version of our step-by-step guide to running a talent show
Talent show tips and advice
- Licensing: If selling or supplying alcohol at your event, you will need a TEN (England and Wales). Submit an application to your local council at least ten days before your event. If playing music and your event is held on school premises, your PTA will not require a separate PRS for Music or PPL as you will be covered by the school's licences.
- Prizes: Ask local businesses to provide prizes for first, second and third places, as well as prizes for the raffle and/or silent auction. Your event doesn't have to be a competition – it can also work as a way to engage parents, boost community spirit and celebrate the range of talents at your school.
- Photos and videos: Consider raising additional funds by selling DVDs or photographs of the event. When filming or taking photographs of children you should get consent from a parent or guardian, in writing, prior to the event. Explain what you intend to do with the photograph/footage, including whether it is to be published, and where. For more information, visit the ICO website.
- Boost profits: A raffle or silent auction is a good way to raise funds from a captive audience! The benefit of an auction over a raffle is that your audience can bid on items based on their particular preferences, and will undoubtedly shell out more than the £1 they might have spent on raffle tickets! Sell refreshments to boost profits further – buy from a wholesaler such as Booker and return unopened packs of non-perishable goods if unsold. Increase revenue by producing a programme.
- Judges: Brief your judges beforehand to ensure that feedback is kept light and positive. You don't want any children to be left in tears or traumatised by the experience! Use this as an opportunity to build pupils' confidence, and as an opportunity for them to share their talents with the rest of the school.
Success story: a night on Broadway
'Our recent musical extravaganza was a smash hit, with almost 600 guests turning up to see performances of songs from Broadway musicals. We booked a local hotel as our venue – this was offered free of charge. We then sent letters to parents, pupils, and members of staff, inviting them to take part either as performers or helpers. The PTA took control of designing the programme, liaising with the hotel, marketing, seeking sponsorship and advertising from businesses, and coordinating technical aspects, such
as lighting and sound.
A local dance choreographer and vocal coach put together a rehearsal plan for us, and each act was asked to provide their own costumes to reduce our costs. The band from our local church agreed to accompany the acts. We promoted the event through Facebook, in newsletters, banners and posters, and sold tickets at £10 each. On the night, the audience were treated to lively renditions of songs from The Lion King, Little Shop of Horrors, Chicago, Wicked, Moulin Rouge! and Les Misérables. The school's dance troupe also took centre stage to perform two seamlessly choreographed dance routines from Annie, leaving the audience totally enthralled.
Throughout the show our audience members could pay £1 to vote for their favourite acts, and at the end, everyone returned to the stage to perform a fully choreographed version of Michael Jackson's zombie-infested Thriller. It was a truly memorable end to a fantastic night's entertainment! 'The Cell Block Tango' from Chicago, performed by our staff members, was voted the winning performance – their rendition alone was certainly worth the ticket price! We sold chips during the interval to boost profits, and people could buy drinks from the hotel bar. We made £7,000 and had a fantastic night!'
Roy Greer, Principal, Moneyrea Primary School, Moneyreagh, County Down (210 pupils)
The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.