Event organisation

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Mark Baker

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I am back in the office now, having been away at the AAW symposium and also taking a few days holiday. I had an excellent time.

I am also mindful that last weekend we saw the UKIWS (UK and Ireland Woodturning Symposium) event - the first one by these organisers - which took place in Coventry, England. I have spoke to one of the organisers from the UKIWS event and they will be sending in a report soon and it will feature in our Woodturning magazine in due course. I will be writing one about the highlights of The AAW symposium for the magazine too.

Symposia are always fun to visit and there are always new ways to make such events better. Now, the use of the term ‘better’ is always subjective. Some will say it is ‘better’ if they have cheaper entry prices, accommodation and parking; the events need to be closer to where people live; an event should have more demonstrators (some will say less demonstrators); needs a better venue, should have clearer videography, better lighting, more seating, cheaper food and drinks and more options food wise; should have better transport options and such like. This list of things goes on and I have seen all of these comments and many more. Of course, everything listed has implications as to what can and cannot be done and what it will cost in both time and money to sort out. By far the biggest comments made by people are about cost and distance.

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It is worth noting that if organisers were to implement everything people ask for and want, then the cost would be so high that people would not come. It is a question of balance in everything that is done, to try to maximise appeal to as many people as possible and not lose money on the event too.

Time, travel and expense affect us all and again it is a balancing act. Most people are willing to travel and pay for that which they want or believe will benefit them. Some, however, don’t want to pay much… if anything at all! I know we all like a bargain and for most of us money and time is tight, so every little helps, but when it comes to getting special events they take a lot of time and effort to put together and they all have a cost. Even if it is free entry to some events, I hear people moan that this or that could have been better, this or that should have been done, happened or provided. I am sure that if free food was provided, some people would complain there wasn’t enough choice or it wasn’t what they liked or wanted. I can just imagine someone, at some event or other, wanting and discussing bellini with caviar and how awful it was that they were served Sevruga instead of Beluga. OK, maybe fish and chips instead of a sandwich is more likely for the events I attend, but you get the point I am making.

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Everything has a cost involved and we are the ones who make the decision as to whether we buy something or go to something. How we spend our money and time is our choice, but please just think about the real cost of things when you weigh up whether something is ‘value for money’. That term is a very relative and subjective term. Events cost a lot of time and also – depending on what time of event – potentially considerable amounts of money to put on. Yes, the organisers have to balance everything they know about their audience in order to create something that will appeal to most of their target audience as best they can, but likewise, people cannot expect things for nothing. Yes, some shows are free, but the money to set them up and time to put them on came from somewhere so there is a cost to someone – even if it is free to attendees. I am very grateful that some events are free and applaud those who make such events possible. Other events range in time spent organizing them and also the cost to attend depending on where it is hosted and what is available to attendees.

I, like many just cannot afford the time or the money to attend all the events I would like to go to and I wish it were different, but I have to balance things. Not well enough at times it seems, I have just looked at my bank balance. Eek!

So back to the word ‘better’ I used earlier. It is so subjective that there are too many variables as to wants, needs, desires, time and available money and what people are willing to spend to come up with the perfect formula.

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Symposia and events will continue to develop and offer a wider range of things for people. I think they are well worth looking at as to what they can offer you individually and also to the community of people we have a shared passion of woodturning with. Yes, there is a cost and mostly, when all things are considered, they represent good value for money when one considers what is offered but that is not to say we can afford for various reasons to go to them all.

Let me know what shows and events you have been to and what you thought of them.

Have fun,

Mark

Photographs top to bottom:

1. Close up of part of one table of items donated by turners for the Beads of Courage program

2. A piece called Wave in the Turning Thirty exhibition by Vivien Grandouiller

3. Items donated by turners for the Beads of Courage program

(PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK BAKER)

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