Entertainment Ideas

Entertainment is part of the draw at gala events. If finding entertainment is on your to-do list as an event planner, you will want to book the best entertainment for your gala. Determine your target audience based on your guest list, charity, and venue. The entertainment can be musical, art-related, fashion-focused, or celebrity-inspired.

A gala concluding a golf tournament might attract a golf professional who has recently published a book. A gala at a nightclub may feature local bands. An orchestra gala may feature a concert with a famous pianist. A hair salon may host an annual fashion show as its form of entertainment.

The first step in booking entertainment for your gala is to assess the needs of the talent you are approaching. If it is a band, will they need a stage, equipment, speakers, and so forth? How will you provide the band with equipment? Can this expense be taken out of the ticket price or will it be a donated item? If the gala is in a nightclub setting, the nightclub may provide some of the equipment; if not, it should be considered an expense. Once you weigh your costs, devise a schedule of the evening's events. Following is an example of a schedule for a gala:

  • 3–5 P.M. — Setup

  • 5–5:30 P.M. — Staff meeting

  • 6:P.M. — Guest arrival

  • 6:15 P.M. — Begin passing hors d'oeuvres and cocktails

  • 8–10 P.M. — Entertainment

  • 10–11 P.M. — Favors and general cleanup

  • 11 P.M. — Event closes and breakdown begins

You will draft a more detailed schedule in the days prior to the event, but for entertainment purposes, you are trying to give the talent a general sense of performance time.

Next, a letter should be drafted. This letter should be slightly different than the donation letter you have written. Like the donation letter, general information should be included about the event and the charity. The letter should then specify why you have chosen this type of entertainment for the gala and, more specifically, why you chose the band, violinist, or DJ. Mention whether you are asking the talent to volunteer their time or if you have a budget to compensate the talent. Also mention any hotel, flight, and meal accommodations in addition to equipment you plan on providing.

The next step to securing the entertainment is to get the letter in the hands of the right person. If you are trying to book a DJ, you may be able to call the DJ directly. If you are trying to book a band, the right person may be the band's publicist. If you were holding your gala at a nightclub, the booking agent for the nightclub would be a useful resource to contact. Also consider a publicist or a public relations firm that may have ties to your organization or sponsor companies. Be creative with your resources.


A publicist also works in fundraising. Public relations firms are involved in the planning of clients' philanthropic efforts. From providing a guest list to soliciting donations for auction items to securing a sponsor, a client's public relations company aids in event plans. On some occasions, the public relations company will be the catalyst for introducing a client to a venue or a brand that they represent.

Congratulations! Your desired entertainment has been secured for your gala. Standard practice dictates signing a contract with the performers, even if they are volunteering. The contract should outline the specifics such as the date and time of the event, as well as the time and length of the performance. The contract should also include which party is responsible for the equipment. Necessary arrangements in case of a cancellation or emergency should also be stated on the contract.

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