There are several factors in choosing the right entertainment for your party or program and questions to ask both yourself and of the person or group you are requesting information.
Is the program designed to educate or entertain?
Are you trying to reinforce or introduce children to a subject or activity? If so, ask how this presentation achieves your objectives. Or, are you looking to just delight children with a funny, lively, or theatrical performance? For either purpose, ask what takes place during the show. Ask if the children are required to sit quietly or if it is interactive.
What age group is most appropriate for your presentation?
Entertainment designed for the preschool set is likely to make a 4th grader gag. Conversely, interactive activities designed with the motor skills and capabilities of a 4th grader in mind will frustrate both the children and the presenter (and likely the other supervising adults). If you are dealing with a mixed age group, ask how the entertainer will accommodate all of them. Don’t be afraid to ask the presenter for examples of other similar groups they have entertained.
How long is the show/presentation?
Most performances will be between 30 minutes and 1 hour with the majority falling closer to 45 minutes. Several factors will help you determine the right amount of time for the performance. At a fair or birthday party there may be games, food, or other activities to engage children during a set amount of time. This contrasts with a summer camp or library program with a designated time set aside for a show. The other critical factor is the age of the participants. While some 2 year olds will sit for an hour and some 10 year olds will only sit for 20 minutes, the younger the age, the shorter the presentation unless the activity is very interactive.
How many children can you accommodate?
If you are charged with entertaining 200 children and the program works best with 20, you didn’t find the right fit. Some programs will require more assistance from adults. Find out what is required of you during the performance.
What are your equipment and space requirements?
You want to determine if the entertainer will require from you a sound system, tables and chairs, access to electric, or special equipment of any kind. Find out if the performance can be in a living room, outside, or with a low ceiling if your space is limited.
How long do you need to set up for the show?
If the “stage” space is shared, either by other activities or another performance, you will need to determine how much time is required to both set up and break down the space and schedule the entertainment/activities accordingly. Ask if the audience can be present during set up if that is required.
What is the cost for the performance?
Ask if the cost is per performance or per person and if it includes travel time. If you would like to have multiple shows, ask about a multi-show discount. If you are booking through an agent, you will likely be paying the agent and the performer. Book the show directly with a performer whenever possible. Find out the terms of the agreement. Many will require a deposit. Ask what the procedure is for booking a performance and the lead time required.
You are entrusting this person or group with both your entertainment and the children. Ask for references, especially from venues and people that have hired them back. Check out their website and Facebook pages, if they have them. Make sure you are comfortable with the tone and message they are portraying.
Or, Google children’s entertainment and your city or state.