Some thoughts on the topic:
1. What I"m hearing is that units decide on events in February and March. Perhaps the larger ones are going to need to move that decision making into the fall, so that event organizers will be receiving large packages of checks in January and February. I understand that it isn't done that way now, but given the economics, the decision to stick with "we'll make our decision in March" may rule out having 150th anniversary events of any battle that happened earlier than mid-July.
2. Small number of non-profit event organizers (and getting smaller every day): As I understand it, the folks who undertake events fall into four categories:
a. The ones who are undertaking their first event;
b. The ones who are doing thier second or third event;
c. The ones who are experienced and who have organized 5 plus events;
d. The ones who are completely burned out and want someone else to organize events.
Teaching "event organizing"
Being an event organizer involves a lot of skills, but it can be taught and learned. I'd like to suggest that just as we don't expect someone to be an overall event military commander in his second reenacting event, we also need to start fostering "event organizing" experiences.
Could we foster a "school of the organizer" just as we do a "school of the soldier?"
Could those who are no longer organizing, but who have the skills to do so start thinking through their experiences and writing up what they did in organizing past events (what worked and what was a disaster and why).
Could we start breaking down event running into specific "tasks" or "goal lines." Like "site locating and negotiating with landowners," "negotiating with insurance companies," "marketing (to get participants)," "Marketing (to get spectators)," "how to pick and oversee portajohn companies" "how to correctly estimate wood needed," "how to contract with the guys who run tractors to move spectators around," etc.
We've also got people who do some of these things professionally or in another hobby. They might not be willing to undertake them for a 150th event, but they could teach them to others. For example, I bet Bill Watson could do a crackerjack seminar or article on "how to write a press release and get the local papers to cover your event." Many of you have the skills to do a great workshop or article on "How to work closely with local law enforcement to anticipate and avoid problems when attracting thousands of spectators into a rural area." etc., etc.
From my miniscule but highly educational experience as a member of the Eastern Campaigner's Alliance, I'd like to also suggest some concise, bulleted, "how tos" on the skills of running a meeting, dealing with conflict, resolving disputes, setting clear goals that everyone "buys into," how to run a conference call, how to keep written meeting minutes, follow up on decisions made. My experience of the reenacting community is that we are terrible at these and it shows.
These would be great topics for threads, or even larger articles for the reenacting magazines.
What about those who are currently in the midst of organizing events or living histories actively recruiting "mentees" within their unit or outside their unit who are there to observe, help and are trying to learn how to put on an event? Sort of "apprentice" or "journeyman" organizers.
What about also posting the positive side of event organizing? Some of you have put on more than one event. If it's such a horrendous experience, undiluted with any redeeming features, you wouldn't do it a second time. We need to be thinking now about how to foster the skills for the people who will be organizing (or helping to put on) the 150th events.
If we want to have 150th events, we need to be thinking now about how to foster lots of people to develop these skills, so that those who are inspired to take the bull by the horns and decide to head up the effort for a particular battle have a pool of semi-trained talent from which to seek their helpers.
Hope that sparks off some discussion,
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