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Topic: If you were to create a strong magic guild that would survive, then what would you need?
Message: Posted by: Mike Walton (May 16, 2004 01:55PM)
So I've been playing with this mental exercise of figuring what really would be required to start a magic guild here in the US. I'm not thinking nationally, but locally. Also, if you have thoughts then explain not only what would be needed, but what you would want!

This guild would be modeled after the old time guilds typically present in Europe many years ago (guessing, but I know they used to be in Estonia.)

Rather than debate what guilds were in Europe, unless it makes sense to this discussion, I'm trying to figure out what should be included then figure out a financial model that would support these activities.

For example, guilds defined and brought together groups of trademen in a certain field, including those interested in entering that field. Skills were passed from old to new members, certain rituals were included and embraced by the community as members progressed along certain skill paths and achieved certain goals and there were banquets and rip-roaring festivals to celebrate the success of the members and to keep the community together. I agree with all of this. (Celebrations should include roasted meat of some sort.)

What else is required? The location should include a long hall where owls drop off letters. Errr, sorry that's Hogwarts.

The location should be one that allows for training, celebration and also seclusion to study one's craft and should include large lumpy chairs next to a fireplace.

The guild needs to pull revenue from its activities and from its members, yet the members need to have a financial reason to join the guild. The guild could act as a trade association on the local level by making the business benefits of magic known to restaurants, to those companies that use trade shows, etc. so it could act as an umbrella organization for marketing the magic. As awareness grows, the guild could act as a placement organization for magicians into jobs or gigs, once of course after they're trained appropriately and meet the requirements of the guild. The guild could also offer beginner courses to the public, for a fee.

The benefits of the guild would be more social and community based, but again there would need to be financial reasons as well.

Please no "there is no way that something like this could survive" attitudes. I've heard enough and tire of this cynicism.

I also believe good tea should be available as well as coffee.

Finally, if there is a magician out there with considerable financial worth who would interested in such an organization or would like this to be his/her legacy....LET'S TALK! :jesterhat:
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 16, 2004 03:08PM)
Gee Mike,

Some of the issues in this topic are obvious.

To start with, would you expect the members to honor each others unique magic?

What could a guild do that the SAM and IBM have not done, or tried to do?
Message: Posted by: Mike Walton (May 16, 2004 04:19PM)

My Friend, rather than ask questions, what would be required to solve your issues?

Uniqueness not being respected.

Do you not agree that magicians must work through many, many levels of basics tied to technical handling, misdirection, confidence and poise, etc. before they are close to performance level? Magicians complain about magicians, new and old, ruining the reputation of magic because they don't know or understand what magic needs to be.

Think of a writer's guild. Their uniqueness must be respected otherwise they would fail at their craft. But before individuals can be unique they must learn the fundamentals of an art, and magic is the same. Let's look at artists. They need to study the masters works, color, technique, etc. before they can express themselves. There are formalized programs, universities, etc. to support learning the arts and those individuals that are associated with these universities have the credentials to gain employment because employers know that a certain skill level can be expected. Of course magic is a secret art, so a public anything couldn't be utilized as a support structure, but this is where a guild could come in.

I highly respect the work of IBM and SAM and am a member of IBM here in Chicago. With IBM and SAM, learning is gained through member association and lectures. IBM and SAM are magician focused. Guilds are market focused in that they realize the skills that are required based on market opportunities, and encourage learning and use of these skills which is rewarded with recognition and job placement.

Aside from Neil Tobin's excellent weekly performance in downtown Chicago, I can't find ANYONE performing magic in Chicago, even on a smaller scale such as at a restaurant, bar, etc. Restaurants do not know the benefits of having magicians, magicians don't know how to perform at restaurants, and many magicians don't have the skills to perform anyway. There is so much market potential for many, many magicians to perform at bars and restaurants here in Chicago but where are they?

Aside from books/DVDs, the association with the members at SAM & IBM who actually perform professionally, and the help from the pros here at the Café, there is no formalized program to learn magic and since it is a secret art, it needs to be limited to its members.

I'm not proposing this for a business plan as it's full of holes right now. But reality aside, I would love to be part of a guild, surrounded by magicians on a weekly basis, brainstorming about new effects and handlings, working on performance skills like toastmasters does for public speaking, celebrating progress with roasted beast, supporting each other gain gigs, etc. Magicians are interesting people. What magician wouldn't want to be part of such a guild?
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (May 16, 2004 04:35PM)
I'm getting the feeling you are seeking a mentoring structure and process.

The existing guilds have/had their place. Likewise those of us who chose the 'high road' in conjuring in NYC in the late 1970s had the benefits of a remarkable peerage. You would be stunned to learn how what seems a humble and unassuming group of people at a pizza place is also the mentoring group for the likes of David Roth, Darwin Ortiz, Jeff McBride...

There comes a point where one has to differentiate one's ego investment in one's work from ones sense of self among peers. One does not perform TO an audience, one performs FOR an audience. More to the point, THEY GRANT YOU THEIR AUDIENCE.

One might appear clever for a few moments by lording some technology over others. Such a bubble of pride us usually burst by some annoyed bystander who makes the effort to remind you that the toys you use are not who you are. Some people are more tactful about this than others.

I've walked around a basic social/economic issue regarding having an effective guild. That of enforcing and economy of secrets with a strictly regimented structure of expectations and consequences.

Here is what worked for me: I was welcomed to the group and treated with the consideration I have others, and based upon my respect for the craft. When I was out of line... I was outside of the discussions. Otherwise... I got to see and discuss as a member of the group. Then again, I wanted to be a member of the group. This was more important than the particular knowledge and ideas in discussion at the time.

I have no idea how this would work for others. What are your thoughts?
Message: Posted by: jonesc2ii (May 16, 2004 06:07PM)
I have always been suspicious of the idea that over-pricing the secrets we hold is the best way to maintain secrecy. Especially now that there are so many millionaires who could buy all the secrets in the shop without a care or anything more than a passing interest.

I think the guild is a wonderful idea and one that I would be more than happy to emulate here in the UK.

I think that, traditionally, a craft is learnt in stages. As you prove your mastery of one level you are introduced to the current knowledge of the next level. This is, IMO, the best way to ensure that knowledge and wisdom are passed from one generation to the next.

Perhaps it would pay to look into the systems that are currently available, accountants, lawyers, clerics?

We all know of 'throw away' secrets that could be used to introduce the layman to the craft. I see no reason why 'magic' shouldn't be available on any college prospectus. Like any other subject you could expect those with no real interest in the subject to become bored and drop out. Those with a real desire will always be ahead of the curriculum and will rise to the top just as with any other subject.

I'm not sure how an apprenticeship works in any other field but I believe that the student who is willing to polish the professor's wands and study when he can is a more worthy and more reliable apprentice than the one who is studying magic simply because he has the finances and the time at his disposal.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hallahan (May 16, 2004 10:23PM)
I would think it would be easier to turn your local SAM Assembly or IBM ring into a guild rather than to start fresh. At least it would be the best place to recruit magicians for a guild. But the main reason for using the existing organizations is twofold. It would strengthen these existing organizations. It is also the most practical. It is hard to get people to give up a day. If they’re already attending one meeting, it will be hard to get them to attend another. If you were to try to create a third and better organization, then you’d be competing with organizations that are well entrenched, and already have magazines, membership drives, and large organizational bases. I’m not saying you couldn’t or shouldn’t do it, just that it would seem to be better to improve what exists rather than to start out all over again.

Our SAM Assembly has some of the components you specified, although we don't have dinners with roasted meat, at least not always. We do go out to a local restaurant after meetings and performances. The local IBM group always has coffee, donuts, cupcakes, etc. at their meeting.

One of the best things our local organization does is to try to frequently book lectures by working professionals. We also have some local professional magicians who occasionally attend meetings. There is no question that professional magicians help to greatly improve our technical/theatrical skills. And when our SAM assembly books someone, we invite all magicians including the local IBM ring, although they pay a slight fee. They do the same for us.

Another thing we do is shows. There are plenty of children’s homes, retirement homes, and public events where there is no budget to hire a professional magician. We fill that niche. All the resources you've listed have improved me as a magician, but nothing compares to actually doing shows. And performing with other magicians is a low-pressure way to improve.
Message: Posted by: Mike Walton (May 17, 2004 09:23AM)
On 2004-05-16 17:35, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
I've walked around a basic social/economic issue regarding having an effective guild. That of enforcing and economy of secrets with a strictly regimented structure of expectations and consequences.

Here is what worked for me: I was welcomed to the group and treated with the consideration I have others, and based upon my respect for the craft. When I was out of line... I was outside of the discussions. Otherwise... I got to see and discuss as a member of the group. Then again, I wanted to be a member of the group. This was more important than the particular knowledge and ideas in discussion at the time.

I have no idea how this would work for others. What are your thoughts?

I absolutely agree with the primary motivation associated with the reward structure of such an organization, to be recognized internally as part of the group and receive the benefits of the community. Associated benefits would be shared insight and information on magic, shared comradery by those interested in doing what you're interested in doing - performing, perception of being on the inside of what's going on with the organization, etc. Negative consequences of managing secrecy, participation, would be managed through the removal of these benefits.

Again, the primary reward and benefits would be participation in a community of professional performing (or soon to perform)focused individuals with a support structure to get individuals up to speed on the fundamentals of magic up to performance ability.

Regarding utilizing an existing magic organization as a guild. Rather than go into discussing the niches that the local magic groups fill, I'll simply note that it would be easier to start something new than trying to change an existing organization. It would be easier from an organizational standpoint because of the proposed changes to the new requirements for entry, structure, strict focus and purpose of the organization, financial structure, and the need for individuals who are willing to implement what's requried for this new vision.

In an existing organization of any sort, an initiative to refocus the organizational purpose would either die on the vine or be implemented weakly at best because the existing membership and leadership wouldn't support the new purpose because of their own, original reasons for their membership. It would cause more conflict and those interested in magic, but possibly not interested in performing professionaly, would be left out which wouldn't be fair to them.

It would have to be a new organization, but again partnerships could exist.