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Re: New York special case?

May 24, 1997 10:28 AM
by Bart Lidofsky

M K Ramadoss wrote:
> I agree with you Paul. I have been to many lectures in TS Lodges where the
> lectures, at least for me were so sub standard, that many times I felt that
> I should be paid to attend them rather than other way around.

	TSA has a number of excellent public lecturers. The best active ones,
in my opinion, are John Algeo, Ed Abdill. Ruben Cabigting and Nathan
Greer are also very well received by audiences. We also have a good
local crop of speakers on whom to draw, such as Ed Abdill, Janet Macrae,
John Milisenda, Nathaniel Altman, Michael Gomes, and, twice a year, Dora
Kunz. New York, however, also has a large number of universities, and we
get a number of professors from the universities willing to lecture here
on theosophical subjects, BUT these professors are used to receiving a
fee for their work (not their knowledge, but the work they must expend
in presenting said knowledge). Also, we used to charge little or no fees
for our courses. When we raised the fees to about 2/3 - 3/4 of market
rates, registration went way up.

	You must realize that when you present courses, even if there is no
monetary fee, you ARE charging the people attending a fee of something
that is very precious to them: their time. If there is a course on
Introduction to Kaballah taught by David Solomon, and another taught by
Solomon David, and you want to learn about Kaballah, it is hard to
determine which one to go to. But if one is a 5 session workshop for
$150, and the other is a 5 session workshop for $25, or free, people are
going to generally assume that the $150 one is far superior, and that
the $25 one is a piece of garbage (note that if the $25/free one was
given at a center for Kabbalistic studies, that would change people's
opinion greatly; that is why we don't charge or charge very little for
Theosophical courses).

> I am very fortunate in having listened to many lectures of every
> International President since C Jinarajadasa without paying a penny as an
> admission fee or the so called *suggested* *donation* or the traditional
> passing on of a collection basket or tray.

	I don't know about the places you have gone, but when we say "suggested
donation", we MEAN suggested donation. NOBODY is turned away for not
paying, told that they did not pay. We have a person with a basket at
the front entrance, and the MOST that person does to "coerce" people is
turn in the direction of people entering, and say, "Thank you for
coming". At some lectures, fewer than half the people attending donate
anything. When one volunteer became a little aggressive by actually
asking people entering to give the suggested donation, we put a stop to
it immediately. And if someone asks if it's OK not to pay, our
volunteers are told (and they do) to tell the person that it's perfectly
OK, and to do nothing to make a non-paying patron feel uncomfortable
about not paying.

	Bart Lidofsky

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