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Resident Professional Performers

You have a resident in your retirement community who has been a professional singer in the past. You've heard her and she still is talented. The residents in your community know she is good also. What do you do when they ask you to hire her? I just had this happen to me......

In the past, I've stayed true to my policy of not hiring a resident to perform for the community. The reason I've had this policy is that if I hire the resident, I believe that even if they are not good, that her friends will feel obligated to attend the show and to say that she was good. But, since I've heard this particular singer, I knew that logically, I did not have a real reason to say no. 

After explaining that I was not able to pay a resident, my resident-singer said that it would be alright to make the check payable to her band that she would need to hire. OK, another hurdle easily jumped. Yeah. We set the first available date I had, which was Valentine's Day and she left my office happy.  What I did not imagine was that she would then start promoting her show, months in advance, throughout the community. As a "professional" I thought that she would have know that this was inappropriate, since I typically promote our shows in the order that they appear so that there is no confusion and that each are promoted equally and as the hired person, that it was not her place to promote her show for me. At the beginning of the month, the community received our calendar of events. When my resident-singer saw that there was an option for residents to go to a sister-community for a Valentine's dance at the same time as her show, she stormed into my office. I explained that there was room for 15 people to go and that I expected about 8-10 to sign up for it. She was still upset and was verbally abusive to me. I was stunned by her lack of professionalism. She did return and apologized for her reaction. I offered to move her show to another date if it continued to bother her because I did not want her to be upset and because she was upsetting the rest of the community with her feelings that I was not treating her with respect. After that conversation, we did not have any more contact until a few days before the show date.

I will shorten this up, because by no means am I trying to be mean or nasty. I will say that I did go out of my way to make sure the sound and lights were just right for her show. (She did not take my advise about the sound, because she knew her voice better and that I needed to put a microphone on the piano, even though it never needs that for anyone else.) I did over look the fact that she (or one of her friends) wrote on the sign up sheet for the Valentine's Dance bus stating that she would be in the community performing, and I believe spoke to each of the 8 residents who signed up (and ended up "changing their mind" or sick), and that she put a reminder notice in every in-house mailbox. I believe that if a resident came to me for an event that they were doing for the community - without getting paid, then I would  do all of that without thinking twice. But, I would not do that for any hired professional! It is a line, at least in my mind, that was not clear at all.

Her show did go on, the auditorium was full, and the residents did enjoy the show, even though it was to loud. I'm glad that this show is over and I have learned a lesson for the future about what is acceptable and what is not between the time the show is booked and the date of the show.

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