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Festivals Toolkit: Organisation

However keen you are, it is highly unlikely that you can organise an event on your own - you need a group.
Festivals image organisation

Groups often form around the desire to run a festival with the celebration of a theme, art form or a specific community interest in mind. To progress the idea you will need to form a committee or working group of people who can plan the festival and oversee its organisation. This usually starts off being an informal grouping but as soon as the group starts to handle money then a formal statement of roles and responsibilities and decision-making becomes necessary.

A group can take the form of a committee set up for the purpose, or, for a longer term approach, possibly a company with a Board of Directors/Trustees. You should allocate clear roles to each individual within the team, so everyone knows what they are doing and what is expected of them. Having clarity about what your group is going to do and why you are planning a festival will help with the planning.

Consider the following questions:

  • Why are you proposing to set up a group?
  • How are you going to organise yourselves?
  • When will you need to be operational?
  • What expertise do you have and what might you need to bring in?
  • What resources are you going to need?

Aim to choose committee members with a range of expertise, interests, skills and experience to share the work. The size of the group will probably depend on the size, duration and type of event. It is usually better to keep the working group small, with one person having overall responsibility and knowledge of the whole event. You should appoint people to three key roles:

Chairperson : someone who is good at managing time and prioritising work and who will organise and run meetings effectively
Secretary : to minute meetings, deal with paperwork and keep everyone up-to-date with information
Treasurer : to manage the finances.

As soon as you have developed a planning schedule you can start to outline responsibilities, duties and tasks and share these out among the organising group and prepare a schedule of meetings. It is a good idea to plan the dates of all meetings up to and beyond the event.

The key organisational areas to be covered are:

  • finance
  • funding
  • health & safety
  • marketing & PR
  • venue organisation/management
  • legal/contracts

Before you allocate individuals to these functions, consider:

  • individual skills and qualifications
  • time availability
  • individual preference

Key points to consider:

  • Keep the committee/working group to a manageable size
  • Share responsibilities and outline tasks clearly
  • Make sure that everyone understands the lines of communication, and
  • Keep the team's spirits high.

For festivals/events that are already established and a committee in place the following are issues that may need to be considered:

  • Is your legal structure appropriate are you incorporated?
  • Is your working structure appropriate are you run solely by volunteers?
  • Is it time to consider employing someone to undertake some of the work?
  • What issues will the organisation have to face if it does so?
  • Do you have a strategy for bringing in new blood onto your committee/board?

Related documents

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