Batuki Music Society: Nurturing The Audience
Summer months are the busiest ones for performers of African music especially in Toronto where festivals happen every weekend from early June to late September. Festival-goers enjoy a lot of free performances by local and international acts. It is also difficult for promoters and non-profit arts organizations to fill venues for ticketed shows at this time of year. Batuki Music Society has experienced this problem, hence, it has worked very hard to develop quality shows and events to attract and retain the audience. For example, some shows are free to the public, others are ‘pay what you can’, and some ticketed. A sliding scale is also employed for most ticketed shows to ensure that those with minimal income can attend.
Batuki Music Society works with other presenters in the city especially on larger projects to attract a large and diverse audience. Co-presentations also help in reducing overheads, such as marketing, promotions, venue rentals, etc. Batuki Music Society’s most recent project involved co-presenting Senegal’s Baaba Maal with the Royal Conservatory of Music at the Koerner Hall. Local radio has been a very valuable ally in promoting local African music. Most attendees for Bauki Music Society events hear about performances through radio, and of course new media (social networks).
Batuki Music Society also persuades some music promoters that typically do not hire performers of African music to try a group or two in their festivals, clubs or series. Such promotions help to develop a new audience that may have not been exposed to African music. Toronto is home to numerous cultures and Batuki Music Society is going to do its’ part by contributing to the wealth of sounds that populate this beautiful soundscape.