What needs doing?
If you are thinking of running a BJC there are many things to consider. It's important to prioritise so you know what you can drop if you are running out of time or money.
- 1 Showstoppers
- 2 Big Things that are less urgent but still very important
- 3 Big Things that can be done by someone outside the core team
- 4 Smaller, easier or less important things that can also be outsourced
- 5 Jobs for inexperienced but enthusiastic team members
- 6 Things you don't have to do at all
- 7 Other things for you to consider
- 8 Afterwards
These are things that you absolutely MUST have to run a BJC. If one of them doesn't work out, it really could be a show stopper.
Once everything on this list is done, you can relax and be pretty certain that whatever happens, the BJC will come out fine somehow.
Most of these things involve paperwork and take an incredibly frustrating amount of time to get sorted out.
- A limited company. The bank account belongs to the company and the company makes all your contracts.
- A site under contract, with camping, parking, etc. If it's not under contract it's not happening.
- A show venue under contract.
- A licence (usually a TEN).
- A bank account. These take forever to open. Putting BJC money into your own bank account can cause nasty problems.
- Event insurance, to cover you against disasters and suings.
- A project manager with a project plan.
- A budget, some accounts, and someone business-like to be in charge of these. They need to be a director of the company, unless you are VERY brave. You can save a lot of money on accountant's fees if your accounts balance, and they match exactly what it says on your bank statements. This does not have to be you.
Big Things that are less urgent but still very important
Big Things that can be done by someone outside the core team
These things are all very important, but there are people around who have done them before and who might be happy to take them off your hands again.
- A public show needs a producer, a stage manager and its own budget.
- Evening events. This can be done by one person but a team is better and a budget is necessary.
- Site management. Bringing in security, marquees, big tops, heating, electrics, fencing and running these when on site. This needs a dedicated person who knows what they are doing.
- Traders need co-ordinating, usually by one of the traders themselves.
- Pre-reg. Clothing/merchandise pre-orders are also possible. Producing a database for reg desk. The sooner you start pre-reg, the sooner you will have some money to spend.
- Running reg desk / info point. A big and responsible job involving a lot of cash handling. Needs a boss and a team. This job is not compatible with other jobs during the event, since the reg desk team will be tied down to the desk while they are working there.
- Applying for and spending any external funding.
- Organising catering and a Bar.
- Publicity is very very important. Somebody needs to be in charge of this, preferably someone with a lot of friends and who knows how to run a website.
- Graphic Design. You need your website to look decent and you will need flyers, t-shirts, etc. Someone with professional experience of this will be much more likely to make a good impression, and hopefully your flyers won't come back with some dreadful mistake.
- IT. Using webmail (via your hosting provider) means that if your "workshops" person is run over by a bus, someone else can see all the sent and received workshop requests. Having somewhere to put documents like meeting minutes where everyone can see them is handy too.
- First Aid
Smaller, easier or less important things that can also be outsourced
- Workshops. A person or team of people in charge of sourcing a good selection of these before the event and hopefully advertising them.
- Games. Someone who will organise the games and make them interesting. Either give them a bunch of prizes or a small budget for them to buy prizes. At some BJCs the traders have been persuaded to donate prizes for the games.
- Shopping. Near to the time, many of the members of the team will have a list of things they need. Someone needs to make up the shopping list, then go to HSS and Costco (or similar) and buy those things.
- Parade. If you want one of these then someone needs to be running it.
- Housekeeping / volunteers. Keeping the bins empty and the toilets clean. Asking people to kindly clean up their mess. Providing supplies for them to do this.
- Passes. Purchasing these within a budget. Don't forget: ribbon costs money when you are buying 1km of it.
- Merchandise ordering (e.g. t-shirts).
- Putting together Local information for info point. A good self-contained job for someone local who wants to get involved but doesn't have the confidence or skill to take on one of the more scary jobs.
- Handling press during the event. Doing interviews, babysitting reporters, etc.
- Childrens activities.
- Fire Space
Jobs for inexperienced but enthusiastic team members
Most of the tasks listed above need someone with experience of some kind. Often a team has access to a lot of volunteers (such as younger people or organisers' family members) who are keen to get involved but may never have even been to a BJC before and don't have the confidence to take on a big responsible job. That shouldn't stop them from helping out!
Volunteers who DO have more relevant skills should probably be spending their time on other things.
Some of the things less-experienced volunteers can do:
- Collecting Local information and/or manning the info point.
- Nagging all members of the team regularly for newsworthy items and publishing them on the website (etc.).
- Being chatty about BJC on forums they happen to read regularly.
- Being chatty about BJC at other conventions they may attend.
- Minuting meetings and distributing the minutes to everyone.
- Making site decorations out of junk (or other inexpensive materials).
- Printing, laminating and distributing signs. This is remarkably time consuming.
- Organising the Housekeeping during the event.
- Co-ordinating and looking after the volunteers during the event.
- Being Mum for the crew during the event (making sure everybody eats and sleeps enough).
- Working on reg desk (the reg desk team will need to train them up during a quiet period).
- Coordinating/being a postie for the Secret Post Office
- Face-painting for the parade.
- Testing out their new act in a renegade.
- Running workshops in any unusual skills they may have.
- Organising a small sub-event (long-distance unicycle expedition, world record attempts, local juggling club showcase, etc etc).
- Walking the site during the event, wearing a crew shirt, chatting to the customers, asking their opinions and taking note of their criticisms.
Things you don't have to do at all
It's important not to let "nice but optional" things get in the way of the big important "showstopper" things. It's wise to outsource anything optional completely, so it doesn't distract the core team from making sure the event happens at all. If you have a small team, you may have to delay optional things until the big things are done, or even drop them completely.
This is not a list of "things that are a waste of time", it's just a list of things that are feasible to abandon if you have time constraints or your budget is tight.
- A parade.
- Fully organised back-to-back evening entertainment every night.
- A well-filled workshop schedule prior to the event.
- Nearly everything on the "unskilled volunteers" list above, if you don't have any unskilled volunteers to do them.
- Kid's activities.
- Fun art projects like the BJC2k countdown clock.
- A video.
- Funded "public activities", school workshops, etc, etc.
- A Closing Show
Other things for you to consider
- Sound and lighting. People (maybe the big top provider, maybe the bands, maybe Mini Mansell) need to bring enough lighting for all the tents, and enough sound equipment for all the shows/bands/games/etc.
- Spaces for everything. How will the space flow, will the traders get enough trade, will the camping be quiet enough, can people in the bar get to the toilet easily, etc.
- Feeding crew. When you're in a rush, you don't want to queue for food and find change. Either run a tab somewhere convenient or put someone in charge of sourcing food and forcing your crew to sit down and eat it.
- Nifty stuff that makes your BJC special. Your BJC doesn't have to be the same as everyone else's. Some BJCs have had a theme (Nottingham '07 - monkeys, Norwich '09 - Pirates, Nottingham '11 - Aliens, Southend '12 - 25th party) but a theme isn't necessary and can be overdone.
- Nifty events or ideas that other people would like to run at your BJC. Some small effort at cultivating people who make suggestions can make a big payback in terms of exciting stuff that you don't have the time to do yourself.