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News & Press: Society News


Monday, April 22, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bruce Kalver
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By Steve Finklestein and Dick Bowman

First off, thank you to the 875 of our compeers who took the time in late February-early March to thoughtfully provide responses to our on-line survey on the state of our Assemblies.  As you know, the Assemblies are the bedrock of the Society where members can meet, enjoy fellowship, and bond over the magic we love and hold so dear.

The National Council focused on seven key priority issues for our Future Planning process based on the member survey in January of 2016.  The Assembly Involvement and Improvement initiative, was initially on the back burner.   With this survey, we are beginning a concerted effort on that initiative for 2019.
This was a blind survey, so we cannot determine who placed a particular comment or to which Assembly the comment pertains.  The important thing is that the perceptions of our members of what is good, and what is ‘not so good’ about their assembly experience.  We need to focus on correcting the ‘not so good’ and spreading details of the good things Assemblies do that makes them successful.

Here are some statistics to set the frame of reference for the results: 875 compeers answered some to all of the questions.  The demographics of those responding include: 77% are current members of at least one Assembly and another 14% were previously an Assembly member.  40% have been a member less than 6 years.  70% attend over six meetings a year, and overall, there were no real differences in the satisfaction level of the members of their Assembly offices or dues.  The same goes for meeting locations, days, times and facilities. For these, basically a normal distribution from unsatisfied to extremely satisfied (although many want more teaching/learning and refreshments).  Those who aren’t currently a member are mainly due to life getting in the way (time, family, work, travel distance, etc.)

While all the particular meeting magic topics garnered some support, it was evident that there are several that make members want to come out to the meetings.  On-average, Close-up Magic, Stand-up/stage magic, and Comedy magic were the top three most desired meeting themes.  This was closely followed by Impromptu magic, magic history, mentalism, card magic, flea market and coin magic.  An unusual but noteworthy topic was restaurant magic.  It was the number one choice of over 40% of the respondents, yet did not finish in the top 12 on average.  

One of the goals of the S.A.M. is to provide the opportunities for our members to improve their magic knowledge and skills. How well did we do? Not well, as 59% said no or modest improvement of their magic from their meetings.  This ties directly to the questions related to magic teaching and ability to use the meetings to not only watch magic and socialize, but they want to learn as well.  Some of the key areas of dissatisfaction was the amount of teaching magic, e.g. Teach-ins, ‘learn a trick’ time, lectures and side sessions to share magic.  This learning includes the areas of close-up, stage, stand-up, developing showmanship and routining as the top five needs.

Also especially important for beginning magicians, during their first four years, is to learn new tricks and principles to expand their magic knowledge.  For these members, the top three things that would enhance this process are to provide an approved magic course; provide a mentor and reduced membership fee for their first year.  As we know, magic is a vanishing art, and the ability to enjoin new people to learn the art of magic and appreciate the effort it takes to become skilled requires the more experience members of the Assembly to help nurture and guide the novices. Mentoring will help retain members and strengthen the future our Society.  And for our newer members, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

The Society can develop a course of study, but it is our ‘more experienced’ members who need to guide, train, and shepherd our newer members.  We are asking each Assembly to facilitate a mentorship program so novices and experienced magicians with similar likes can get together.  Ask any of the greats in our world.  Having a magic mentor probably ranks at the top of their reasons for their success. If your Assembly has a mentorship program, please provide your best practices to your RVP for forwarding to us.  Encourage members to view the live or recorded lectures on Assembly V1.1.

The things we must guard against are the politics, pettiness and cliques that sometimes become destabilizing factors within our Assemblies.  Those should be easy to resolve:  We are COMPEERS.  Yes, Compeers, equal in status to one another. Please check your egos at the door and help the Assembly and your compeers grow in magic and our fraternity.  Other areas we need to avoid are having no communication before the meeting, being boring or a lack of coordinated/structured program.  Bottom line, our members say they want to have fun, watch magic, learn magic and socialize with a group of like-minded magic enthusiasts.  Oh, and have refreshments!  

What we have provided above can provide a good start for the officers and members alike to change the direction of their Assembly – CASWIKS! Continue what is working well, Ask your members what they want, Start new best practices, Work with your RVP for ideas and guidance, be Innovative, Keep records of attendance and membership, and Stop those ineffective, low value activities.  The National Council will be providing your Assemblies with more details on how to improve the magic experience at Assembly meetings. 

Thanks again for helping to provide the input to us on your experiences and we ask each of you to help improve the Assembly experience for your compeers.

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