Unveiling the Secrets of Thriving Magic Clubs: Insights from a Dozen Clubs Across the Globe
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In the 90s, when I first started attending magic club meetings in the basement of an old church in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, our small club had nearly thirty active members.
Today, there are less than five who regularly attend.
Our magic club is on the verge of extinction. If your magic club is failing, you're not alone.
For the past twenty years, I've travelled the world as a full-time professional magician because of the support of my local magic club and the magicians I met at those monthly meetings.
Magic changed my life as it has for so many of us.
I'm not surprised that magic clubs are struggling to stay afloat. Sure, the art of magic itself is as popular as ever, but the traditional magic club model is outdated and in need of some serious revamping.
Over the past six months, I've been on a mission to talk with thriving magic clubs worldwide about strategies they used to turn around their membership.
Magicians from Auckland, New Zealand, British Columbia, Canada, to Atlanta, Georgia, generously shared their club's ideas and strategies.
Their insights could be the essential lifeline that saves your club.
This five-part series aims not just to start the conversation but to provide a step-by-step strategy for struggling magic clubs.
Topics covered in this series:
how changing the structure of your meeting can increase membership and member satisfaction
six things every magician wants from their magic club
how to grow your membership with just two events
plus challenging topics like how to deal with difficult members and more.
I've also created several free tools your magic club can download and customize each month to get you started immediately.
All these resources and information are only helpful with action. The truth is that the success of your magic club depends on the willingness to rise to the challenge, fix the problems and reinvent for a new generation.
I hope to show you that it's easier than you might think– besides, magicians are accustomed to achieving the impossible.
First, let's diagnose the problems.
What's working— isn't working.
The art of magic is timeless, but the traditional magic club model is not.
Unsurprisingly, the secret is approaching the problem with an open mind and a willingness to explore all possible solutions.
So, what isn't working?
5 Common Complaints From Magic Club Members
There are five common issues I've outlined below. How many of these relate to your local magic club?
Let's talk about the elephant in the room: magic clubs are notoriously exclusive. They're often seen as a "gentlemen's club," with a membership comprised mostly of older white men. This lack of diversity is problematic because it alienates younger members and visitors who come to learn magic in an inclusive environment but are often faced with inappropriate comments, outdated social viewpoints—and even rude language.
Magic club meetings spend too much time dealing with business, administration and club politics. No one joins their local magic club to spend endless time on club bureaucracy– they come to learn magic. Instead, many meetings get lost in discussions of club affairs, bickering about club politics, or dealing with stubborn and egotistical members.
Magic clubs need to adapt to the digital age. With the rise of social media, YouTube, and other online platforms, there's no excuse for magic clubs not to have an online presence. They need to embrace technology and use it to attract new members and engage with a broader audience.
Magic clubs need to be more visible in their communities. Magic clubs need more public outreach to attract new members and stay relevant. From public performances or partnering with other local organizations, if magic clubs want to thrive, they must prioritize public outreach.
Magic clubs need to innovate and offer something new and exciting. The traditional club model of lectures and workshops is dead. It's simply not enough to keep people returning when so much is available online for free.
Over this article series, I'll offer solutions to these concerns with simple and effective tactics that magic clubs worldwide can easily implement.
How do you meet the needs of your members? You start by asking.
The One Question Every Magic Club Must Ask to Succeed
What did the magic clubs who turned around their dying membership do differently? They put members' interests first by asking the right question: "What do you need at this stage in your journey in magic?"
If you can answer that question and work every month to fulfilling your member's needs, you can grow, and your magic club will thrive.
Getting direct feedback from members is the first step to rebuilding your magic club.
Implementing a yearly membership survey is an easy way to listen to your members and gather the essential data you need to serve your members.
I've prepared a simple membership survey you can download and use as-is or customize as you need.
Download the Magic Club Member Survey
So, what do most magicians want from their club?
There are only six essential needs.
6 Things Every Magician Wants From Their Magic Club
Being part of a magic club can be a rewarding experience.
Not only do you get to interact with fellow magicians and learn from their experiences, but you also get to showcase your talents and receive valuable feedback.
The problem is balancing the unique needs of all your members, which vary by experience level, interests and history in magic.
While it's impossible to perfectly target everyone's expectations at each meeting, there are several solutions your club can quickly implement that will make dramatic differences.
In next month's article, I'll share the anatomy of a perfect magic meeting based on the input of several great clubs combined– a dynamic approach to addressing many of the following needs, maximizing impact, and respecting your members' valuable time.
6 Essential Magician Needs:
Let's look at the six essential needs every magician wants from their magic community in detail:
1. Community of Like-Minded Individuals
One of the main reasons magicians join magic clubs is to be part of a community of like-minded individuals who share their passion for magic.
A good magic club should provide a welcoming and supportive environment where magicians can socialize and exchange ideas. This sense of community is vital for novice and experienced magicians, providing a platform for learning and growth.
2. Opportunities to Perform and Showcase their Skills
Magicians join magic clubs not only to learn from others but also to showcase their skills.
A good magic club should provide its members with opportunities to perform in front of an audience, whether at club meetings, private events or community gatherings.
This helps magicians build their confidence and allows them to receive valuable feedback from their peers.
3. Access to Resources and Learning Opportunities
Magicians always look for ways to improve their skills and learn new tricks.
A good magic club should provide its members access to resources and learning opportunities, such as lecturers, online resources, instructions, books, and workshops.
This not only allows magicians to expand their repertoire but also helps them to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques in the industry.
4. Opportunities for Collaboration and Networking
Magic clubs provide their members an excellent opportunity to collaborate and network with other professionals in the field.
A good magic club should organize events and activities encouraging collaboration and networking, such as group performances, mentorship programs, and community outreach events.
This helps magicians build relationships with other professionals and opens up new opportunities for career growth and development.
5. Opportunities for Buying and Exchanging Tricks
Magicians always look for new and exciting magic tricks to add to their repertoire. A good magic club should allow its members to buy, sell, and exchange tricks with other members.
This can be done through magic auctions nights or informal club meeting exchanges.
6. Fun, Safe and Supportive Environment
Finally, a good magic club should provide its members with a safe and supportive environment where they can feel comfortable sharing their ideas and performing their magic.
This includes setting clear member rules and guidelines for behaviour. A safe and supportive environment is essential for building trust and encouraging open communication among members.
Overall, a good magic club should provide its members with various opportunities to perform, learn and grow.
When you spend time and effort to grow your magic club, you get more than just a community of like-minded people, you also help to raise awareness of the art of magic in your community.
This is great for everyone— it helps amateurs learn new skills, build confidence and become better magicians, plus a growing interest helps professional magicians book more gigs.
A thriving magic club benefits everyone.
The bottom line of this article series is simple: times have changed. Social dynamics have changed. To survive, magic clubs need to focus on meeting the needs of their members rather than preserving tradition.
Change must happen– but the magnetic-crotched ball is in your court.
Alan Watson - Auckland, NZ (The Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Inc.) https://bam.net.nz/
Mike Norden - Mission, BC (Fraser Valley Magic Circle) https://www.fvmc.ca/
Eric Schuster - Atlanta, Georgia, USA (IBM Ring 9 The Georgia Magic Club) https://www.gamagicclub.com/
David Peck - Toronto, ON Canada (Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club IBM Ring 17) https://www.ibmring17.com/
Ben Train - Toronto, ON Canada (Toronto Magic Company) https://www.torontomagiccompany.com/
Colin Geddes - Toronto, ON Canada (Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club IBM Ring 17) https://www.ibmring17.com/
Mike Miller - SAM Assembly #4 Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
IBM RING 12 Gene Gordon-Karl Norman Buffalo, NY https://www.facebook.com/Ring12BuffaloNY/
IBM Ring 49 The Doug Henning Magic Wand Club, Hamilton, ON Canada http://www.ring49magic.com/
IBM Ring 235 KW Magic Society, Kitchener, ON Canada https://www.ibmring235.org/
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About The Author
Ryan Joyce is the Executive Director of the Ontario OWOW Magic Festival. Ryan is a professional magician, entertainer and speaker who has performed over 5000+ shows worldwide. He has appeared on Penn & Teller's Fool Us, Canada's Got Talent and every Canadian national television network. He has over 10+ million views on YouTube, Facebook and social media and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies to deliver world-class performance.