Planning Your Event

Planning usually starts with the idea for your event or activity – you might be enthusiastic about its purpose, benefit or value and will need to communicate this to others in order to bring the project to life.

As well as thinking about where it will take place and who it is for, it is important to consider the people who will work with you to make it happen. Make a note of all the resources including the skills, time, knowledge, commitment, ideas, places, venues, equipment, financial support and income generators available. There may be gaps in your resource base and it is helpful to identify these and fill them early on.  Be realistic about the cost of the project, the time it will take and what you can expect others to do.

What motivates people to volunteer their time to the project? Being clear and well organised about all the different actions required to bring it together will help. If it is a large-scale, long-term enterprise it is definitely worth sharing the tasks out from an early date.

Two neighbouring village festivals in South Cambridgeshire decided, instead of holding competing annual festivals, to alternate and support each other. This takes the pressure off the small core group of organisers and allows people more time to reflect on different ways of doing things, combine resources and recruit new volunteers.

The sample timetable below for a neighbourhood festival may be an aid in identifying what jobs need to be done and when.

Sample Timetable and Checklist

All projects will be different in the planning stages and in what you’ll need to keep track of. Here’s a sample timetable for a village festival to give you an idea of timescale. You could also use it as a checklist for what jobs need to be done and where.

Timescale and Task Date

1 year ahead

Start to organise – appoint a steering committee
Consult the community
Decide on the project and focus on your aims and objectives
Allocate roles to help with the planning stages
Decide on a venue/site
Have an initial talk to the licensing officer
Tell your local arts officer what you are planning and ask for any advice
Do a rough budget so you know how much money you need to raise
Start raising money locally and looking into possible sponsorship
Look into the range of grants that are available – some grants take longer to process than others
Start to look for a community artist, performer or act for your event

9 months ahead

If you need to apply for a premises license, do this now
Interview any artists you would like to work with
Provisionally book any professional performers
Inform the police of your plans
Check the availability of any equipment you may need
Start to apply for grants – some take four months to process, others can take eight weeks
If your event is outside, do a provisional site plan
Begin to think about marketing and ticket sales

6 months ahead

Contact your local district Safety Advisory Group (SAG)
Confirm the contract with the artist or performers
Begin to confirm funding
Make sure you are licensed, insured and are following legal requirements
Do a detailed balanced budget
Apply for any council arts grants now
Confirm the hire of any equipment
Write and send out your first press release and information to the community
Start to contact potential stall holders, caterers, refreshments
Organise St John’s Ambulance or the Red Cross

3 months ahead

Get the artwork for the posters and leaflets ready
Write and send a second press release and information to the community
Confirm stall holders, caterers etc

2 months ahead

Write and send your third press release
Print your posters and leaflets

1 month ahead

Distribute your posters and leaflets
Do a final check of equipment, performers, artists, residency dates etc
Put up bunting or a big sign by the venue to attract attention
Plan your photo opportunity or publicity stunt and invite the media

1 week after

Organise a sociable de-briefing for everyone who was involved
Complete your evaluation forms and send them off
Claim all your grants
Start again!

Further information

Timescale and Tasks Sheet
Voluntary Arts Briefing 15 – Strategic Planning
Voluntary Arts Briefing 28 – Eventful Planning
Holding a Fundraising Event Guide
Cambridgeshire Acre – Community Facilities Fact Sheet

Go to the next section ‘Hiring Technical Equipment’

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