I have been to Lindy in the Park three times this year (not counting one lunch), each time there were less than ten people who have showed up. What's up with that? The weather? A little cool at the first, but that's not it. People have quit enjoying swing dancing? Nope, try again. Everyone has to work on Sundays now? I don't think so.
The problem is a lack of leadership. First off, lets explain the word leadership. The first part of leadership is leader, as in the person who goes first. People follow leaders, they are the people who lead. Leadership means to be out front, rallying the troops, being a presence, getting people excited. Leadership leads, usually by example.
We have a board, we have directors, my three times at Lindy in the Park, I have seen one of these people there for about 20 minutes. Yeah team! Show us how much you care. When I was in the military, the people who ran my shop were the first there, the last to leave, they knew who you were, and asked you how things were going for you. One of them, named Roger Anderson even cosigned on my car, do you think maybe if he put a gun in my hand and said "we are going to retake that hill" I would have followed him? I think so, I probably still would. They worked so hard us regulars would gang up on them and make them go home early every once in a while. They led, we followed.
Work is different, very few leaders, a lot of managers, directors, and other types. They are there to protect the investors investments. They need to manage resources and direct people.
Omaha Jitterbugs is not work. No one is paid. You cannot direct them to go to Lindy in the Park or Jitterbugs Night Out. You can not manage your resources in to greater volunteerism. You can only get people to participate one way, by leading them. Like Yogi Berra said about low attendance "If the people don't want to come out to the park, nobody's going to stop them."
Yes, we have vision, yes, we have great events for out of towners, but we are losing our constituency. Seriously, I watch, the number of newcomers at JNO is just as high as always. It's the medium to old timers not making a show. Newcomers might come out to Lindy in the Park, but they have to know about it and see a couple familiar faces, and a crowd, when they get there. Again, our instructors, directors, and board are not there.
Don't give me any crap about being out of town, Billy & Lindsay would have made darn sure if they were out of town, someone was going to be there to represent. If you focused on taking care of your small customer, the people in Omaha who come to JNO and Lindy in the Park every week, you wouldn't have to worry about money for the big events, 501c3 or not. If you let people who want to volunteer contribute, you wouldn't have to feel overwhelmed about everything getting done for the big (or small) events.
Go ahead and argue with me if you want, it really doesn't matter. Others are saying and thinking the things I've said here, and they are voting with their feet, dancing elsewhere or not. Without clear, out front leadership, Omaha Jitterbugs will be like any other enterprise with bad customer service, the people will just quit coming.