Some of you may have noticed that there are as yet to be announcements regarding arrangements for summer training times as promised last week.
Unfortunately, after the publication of last week’s Budo Bulletin, the Principal of Holy Name Catholic Primary School informed me that the usage rate charged for the MEAC would immediately increase from $15 per hour to $20 per hour, and that we were not to proceed with any of our planned cleaning or maintenance activities for the MEAC. We were also informed that we had to agree to the new terms immediately.
An immediate 33 per cent increase in a fixed cost is hard to absorb for any entity, particularly where that fixed cost is the largest (by a factor of more than nine) of any other cost we sustain as a Club. BBRD has always remained resolutely not for profit, and has always encouraged participation and non-financial contribution over strict application of training fees. We have been able to do this due to the extremely generous terms we had secured for the use of the MEAC. Our training contributions have likewise been well below the current “market rate” that other similar Clubs might charge.
However, the implementation of this decision and the presentation of a speculative invoice for December usage comes at an awkward time for the Club. December has historically seen a drop off in both casual and monthly-paying attendance, and so represents a squeeze from both increased costs and reduced income.
In any decision to move forward, we need to ensure that we are being fair to all parties involved. First, the School is within its rights to ask for an increase in rent, as the MEAC can be viewed legitimately as an asset for which a reasonable financial return could be expected. Second, it would be patently unfair to ask members who have already made their monthly contributions to again put their hand in their pockets for a one third contribution to make up the shortfall, particularly given the expenses of end-of-year seminar and grading costs, and in the lead up to Christmas.
The most immediate thing we could do in the face of this was to rationalize our training times. Our standard class time has been 15 hours per week, and deliberately spread so as to give folk the maximum chance of attending as many of the Club’s training sessions without overlap.
Unfortunately, this is unsustainable for the rest of this month. As a result, we will be contracting training to two nights per week and have two, rather than three, hours on Sunday. From this week, and for the remainder of December, we shall be training Tuesday and Thursday nights 6-9 pm then Sunday 10 am-12 pm. Fire and Flow and Taiko drumming will be on recess for the remainder of the year, Jodo shall be shifting to the other nights (still to be advised by Eric as to the exact schedule), and FlexiFit will potentially reconvene once we have had a discussion with all regular participants as to the best way forward.
And in the new year we shall re-evaluate our options. At present, what faces us is a $15,000 usage bill for the MEAC in 2018 if we were to maintain the same training schedule we have had for the last few years. At a monthly average number of “unique” participants at, let’s say, 15 people, that is equivalent to a little under $84 per month per person without factoring in any other expenses. Once those other costs are added (not including insurance/affiliation fees which we charge as yearly membership costs), that figure is closer to $95 per month, which is roughly what other similar organizations in Toowoomba charge. What impact that will have on the ability for our members to pay is yet to be discovered. Given that we are a student-focused club, and many of our members have very little disposable income, this may in fact plunge attendence rates to unsustainable levels unless we make other substantial changes.
The Executive will be having a planning retreat this Saturday where we will be working through our options. These will of course include fee increases, permenant training timetable changes, and relocation of some or all classes to a new venue(s) . This will also be impacted on by any change in attendence rates (both positive or negative) in the new year. On the plus side, there are a number of opportunities that will be available, including the QKR initiative that will provide State-government vouchers for children to participate in Kendo.
Please rest assured that we will be collectively working to implement the most equitable solution, and that we shall keep everyone in the loop regarding what we decide. Risk and opportunity are almost inevitably paired in any circumstance, and we shall work hard to minimize the former and maximize the latter.
But for the immediate future keep training hard, enjoy what break you might have over the coming weeks, and, as always, I will look forward to seeing you in the Dojo!