Last month was FISM 2012 in Blackpool, England. By now a lot has been written about it, some good, some bad. Okay, mostly bad. But I have a gripe with FISM that I’d like to share. And I am sure you haven’t heard this one yet.
Like thousands of magicians around the world I perform magic for children. My gripe is that FISM continues to ignore children’s magic. SInce FISM began there has only been one lecture at one FISM about magic for children.
Everyone shout along with me: “What do we want? A children’s magic lecture! When do we want it? In three years!”
The single example of a children’s magic lecture at FISM occurred in Den Haag in 2003 because the organizer of that FISM was himself a children’s magician. (I know what you are thinking: How can that be? He is only a children magician. What does a children’s magician know about magic?)
Several years ago I asked Eric Eswin, who just stepped down after being president of FISM for 12 years, why FISM does not include magic for children. He told me that he (and FISM as an organization) considers children’s magic as an adjunct sub-group of the art of magic and that if FISM included the minor category of Children’s Magic it would then have to also include other splinter sub-groups like Magic History, Magic Collecting, and others.
But Children’s Magic is not a minor sub-group of the magic world. I would argue that, unlike the categories of Magic History and Magic Collecting, Children’s Magic is practiced by a much greater number of magicians. In fact kids magic shows, whether at birthday parties, schools, libraries, or day care centers, account for the majority of all the magic shows performed each year. There are more kid show guys performing magic than all close up workers and stage performers combined. Plus there are more people watching children’s magic shows than there are in the audiences of stage magic shows.
But even if all that was not true, so what if you have to include lectures that aren’t close up lectures. That seems like a great idea to me. Some people get tired of seeing the same kind of lecture presented over and over: trick, explain, sell, trick, explain, sell.
Open the umbrella wider FISM. Throw in a few surprises. If people don’t want to go to one particular lecture they can spend some time and money in the dealers room. One of the best lectures I saw at FISM Blackpool was about Quick Change by Sos and Victoria. Not as well-attended as some of the other lectures, but for the lucky 200 who were there we were riveted as Sos and Victoria taught us their closely guarded secrets. I can’t believe more people didn’t come to watch Victoria take her dress off over and over again.
One of the arguments Eswin used when I asked him about kid show lectures at FISM five years ago was that when you add one lecture to the schedule you also have to add two more versions of the same lecture. That is because one lecture is presented in English and the other two are translated into other languages.
But times have changed and English has become so dominant in the world that the days of translating might be behind us. And three years from now English may even be more dominant. (Or, if you have a “screw you” attitude like FISM Blackpool had, you can do what they did – don’t even bother to translate for non-english speaking magicians.)
Some organizations respect children’s magic and the idea that variety can be a good thing. The late Hank Moorehouse booked me to be one of only six lecturers at the combined IBM/SAM in 2008. Other lecturers included Jon Racherbaumer, David Williamson, and Jim Steinmeyer. For Children’s Magic to be one of only six lectures was a real statement by Hank.
Luis de Matos booked me to present a kid show lecture at the EMC convention in 2011. It was an honor to do my Children’s Magic lecture in the same schedule that included legends like Lennert Green, David Berglas, and Max Maven and future legends like Lu Chen, Dani Daortiz, and the Buck twins. Both Luis and Hank understood that lots of magicians perform magic for children, and, if the right lecturer is selected, everyone will learn something interesting.
So, here is my public plea to the Italian organizers of the next FISM. Please include a lecture on Children’s Magic! Children’s magic needs to be represented at the world’s most important magic convention. What could possibly be the downside? It would serve a large number of attendees and for those who do not perform magic for children, they will learn something new. I am sure that the organizers can find a kid show lecturer who can present an intelligent lecture in an engaging way that would be interesting to magicians of all disciplines.
…And looking at my calendar for July 2015, I do still have some availability.