[Cynnabar] Generalist Events vs. Niche Events or Opening the Can of Worms

Heidi Lemon heidi.ma2 at gmail.com
Wed Sep 14 17:53:20 UTC 2011

OK.  Here goes.   I guess I am confused.

The point that I would like to make is that there needs to be a policy so
that in the future the populace of the Barony know in advance exactly who is
going to be comped ALL the time at events.  Not exceptions for different
people for different times.

If WE do not support our Barony by doing the work AND paying the entrance
fee we will have no seed money to put on any events.

If all the people that volunteer should get comped, that is not fair
either.  This is a game we play, either you support your play or you don't.
And if you notice, no matter what event it is a "niche" event or a
"generalist" event it is the same base group of people who volunteer to
help.  It would be nice to see some new faces at set up, tear down, gate,
tavern, etc.  More hands make less work for all.  It is just that the whole
of the populace should support all the events that the Barony puts on, but
there are groups of people that you only see at certain events.

I, as an example, don't fight or do music, but I always volunteer at Terp
and Grand Tourney.   I have done the tavern at both.  And for those who have
not done tavern, it is a 3 to 4 month process, you have to buy all of the
food for a test to see how it turns out, how many serving you can get out of
a recipe, how much each serving costs, what kind of plates, bowl, cups you
will need.  Try to guess how many you will serve.  Look for the best deals
on bulk food and buy ahead of time so you can save the most money. The week
before you cook every day.  And the list goes on.   I do this very happily
because this is my contribution to the group.  I still work all day in the
kitchen and PAY my entrance fee HAPPILY.  There are many times Uillec and I
give more than the entrance fee as a donation, SO WE CAN DO THIS ALL AGAIN.

I do not believe we should pay people to come to our events, with the
exception of Royalty, PERIOD..  If an event is so prestigious then people
should want to come and/or participate just to be able to say they helped or
were  at such a prestigious event.

I support all the events the Barony puts on.  Some make money so those that
don't, but are still fun can happen.  Hopefully all events we have will
either break even or make some money for the group so we can keep doing more
and more.


On Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 11:56 AM, Monique Rio <mrio at umich.edu> wrote:

> The question of whether or not to comp/give a discount to volunteers
> is actually part of a bigger issue: niche events vs. generalist
> events. The issue is complicated, so I think it deserves a thought out
> response. Below is the summary. Below that is is the justification.
> There are headings to make this very TLDR email more digestable.
> In general we like the idea of everyone chipping in to pay for the
> space to participate in their hobby. This doesn’t work as well at
> niche events since not everyone is able to do their thing. However,
> there are many good reasons why we should do niche events even though
> not everyone can fully participate. There are also good reasons why
> teachers should get a discount and musicians should be comped at
> Terpsichore.
> I suggest we should comp/give discounts to volunteers at our niche
> events, but not at generalist events. Who we comp at niche events
> should be worked out ahead of time so that the everyone finds it fair.
> Also, niche events are awesome and I’m so glad we do them.
> From what I gather the general SCA opinion on paying for events is
> that everyone should except royalty and possibly “guests of honor.” We
> all chip in to pay for the space to partake in our hobby. We all
> volunteer so that the event is successful.
> This works very well for generalist events like Twelfth Night,
> Wassail, Val Day etc. At these events there’s something for everyone.
> You’d come to the event anyway even if your services weren’t needed.
> Generally volunteer positions aren’t too intense. It’s an hour or two
> out of your day. There are still plenty more hours left to do what you
> want.
> For niche events this model doesn’t work as well. One particular group
> benefits a lot more than the others. Everyone not in that group is in
> a support role. For many of the people in those support roles, the
> main reason they come to a niche event is that they want to support
> the barony and/or they have a job to do. If it weren’t for those
> things they wouldn’t go. In my opinion, it’s asking a lot for
> non-dancers at Terpsichore to pay to volunteer at gate or to pay to
> work in the kitchen. At the very least they should get a discount and
> probably should be fully comped. There’s a difference between helping
> to make an event you’re enjoying successful and paying to volunteer. I
> don’t think we should ask people to pay to volunteer. And honestly I
> think there should be a discount for any non-dancer who attends.
> I think a lot of us feel uncomfortable about niche events for a number
> of reasons.
> 1) The structure is inherently unfair. One group is catered to but
> everyone is called to help out.
> 2) They are the exception to the rule, especially at the Baronial
> level. Most Baronial events in our kingdom look the same: fighting all
> day, one track of classes on a wide variety of topics, court, and
> feast.  Maybe some shopping. Maybe a ball. Niche events like Grand
> Tourney and Terpsichore at the Baronial level are rare.
> 3) In the modern world, the generalist event fits the house party
> model. At a house party there’s usually something for everyone there
> to do, hosts and guests alike. The host takes on all the
> administrative tasks and usually pays for food and drink. The
> expectation is that eventually someone else will host a party and take
> on the admin duties, but even if they don’t that’s OK, hosting is fun.
> It makes sense that at this kind of event everyone pays including the
> host. We like this model. It’s warm and fuzzy feeling.
> If a niche event were a house party it’d look like this. Let’s say
> there are two housemates. One housemate loves sports the other
> housemate is ambivalent at best about sports. The housemates have
> separate checking accounts. Sports-Lover wants to host a Superbowl
> Party and expects Sports-Ambivalent to help out. Sports-Ambivalent
> wants to promote social harmony so agrees to help out with party
> management. But that isn’t enough. Sports-Lover also expects
> Sports-Ambivalent to help out with party expenses from his personal
> account. Time and money are expected from Sports-Ambivalent. This is
> not a happy model. We do not like this.
> Granted I know this is how lots of family parties look. Not only do
> you not want to go, but you have to get a gift for the person(s) of
> honor. I don’t think this is either good or healthy. I think it’s a
> lot more respectful to everyone if we recognize who attends out of
> obligation and who’s there because he wants to be. It’d be a lot nicer
> if Sports-Lover said to Sports-Ambivalent, “I know you don’t really
> want to be here. I appreciate your help, that’s payment enough.” That
> gives Sports-Ambivalent a chance to be generous and chip in if he
> feels so inclined.
> Also, most niche events look a lot like modern world workshops.
> Terpsichore in particular looks like a dance workshop AACTMAD would
> host. (AACTMAD = Ann Arbor Community for Traditional Music and Dance).
> These workshops are financed by the participants. Volunteers either
> get a discount or get their entry fee comped depending on how much
> they volunteer. (Same model as Science Fiction Conventions.) Teachers
> and Callers are paid. Musicians are paid. The main difference is
> AACTMAD is a dance/music organization. You’re not going to have people
> who neither dance nor play music volunteering. But that to me means
> it’s even more silly to expect our volunteers who neither dance nor
> play music to have to pay the full entrance fee at Terpsichore. Still,
> we don’t like this model because it’s not the happy house party model.
> So, if niche events are inherently unfair and don’t fit the good happy
> house party model, should we even have them at all? I think we
> absolutely should, and here’s why:
> 1) They bring prestige to the Barony. People will travel to a niche
> event. They won’t travel to an event that looks like every other event
> in their region.
> 2) They are where mastery is developed. It’s actually really hard to
> develop mastery in a systematic way through the SCA. At any event with
> a lot of classes, the vast vast majority of them will be entry level.
> They have to be because you don’t know how many people in your field
> will be at a given generalist event and everyone assumes they can drop
> in on whatever class they want to. Kasha for instance taught a great
> class at Wassail and Twelfth night last year on the music of the Notre
> Dame School. At Wassail several people came to her class, most of
> which were from the choir, some of which had very little music
> experience. At Twelfth Night only Aaron and I showed up. This class
> would have been well attended at Cecilia Day, but I think it didn’t
> work at Twelfth Night because it was too deep.
> The only generalist event I can think of where beyond entry level
> classes work is Pennsic, and that’s because Pennsic is huge. And even
> at Pennsic, you can’t go as in-depth as you could at a niche event.
> Aside from Pennsic (and maybe RUM... I’ve never been there), if you
> really want to learn your craft you need to go to a Known World
> Symposium and/or find someone to apprentice to. Or if you want to
> learn about dance you can go to Terpsichore. Niche events are where
> it’s at.
> 3) They promote greater cohesiveness in the Barony. Generalist events
> are more cliquish. Fighters hang out with fighters, dancers with
> dancers, class goers with class goers. There’s no reason for these
> groups to mingle. At Terpsichore people who don’t ordinarily dance
> either try it out or help to make the dancing great. At Grand Tourney
> non-fighters get a chance to actually see what this fighting thing is
> all about since nothing else is competing for their attention. Also I
> think niche events are where groups really get a chance to see how
> much their Barony supports them.
> We should give Terp teachers a discount because that’s how every other
> dance organization in the country does it. If you teach at workshop
> you get paid to do so. Outside of the SCA I’ve never heard of dance
> teachers paying for the privilege of teaching. And the classes taught
> at Terpsichore are not “lowest-common denominator classes”. Some are,
> but many of the classes are based on new research. Also, as Alina
> mentioned, the majority of our teachers aren’t from the Barony. Giving
> them a discount is a way of saying “Thank you” for helping to make our
> event great. This discount is appreciated. And one more thing,
> teaching at Terpsichore is actually a bit of a sacrifice on the part
> of the teacher. At Terpsichore the maximum number of classes someone
> can attend is 5 (not counting Midair’s 9AM track). Every class you
> teach is one you aren’t taking. Some of our teachers teach more than
> one class.
> For the musicians, again, this is how it works in every dance
> organization in the country. Dancers chip in to pay for the band. The
> band gets paid. Also, it’s my impression that Cynnabar has hired bands
> to play for Terpsichore in the past. The main difference between
> Ritornello and Ye Hired Band is that Ritornello is local and we
> haven’t made any CDs yet. We practice ahead of time. We aren’t an open
> pit. Etc. Etc. If we were an open pit, it’d be different. Also, the
> Pittsfield Open Band, a local community band that plays for contra
> dances and is very comparable to Ritornello gets /paid/ to play for
> said contra dances. We’re not suggesting that Ritornello get paid, but
> simply that if someone in the band is only coming to play for the
> evening, that they shouldn’t have to pay to do that. If they go to
> classes during the day then they should pay since they’re now a
> participant.
> To sum up, I think we should comp volunteers at our niche events. I
> don’t think we should comp volunteers at generalist events. I think
> who we comp at niche events should be worked out ahead of time so that
> the everyone finds it fair. Also, niche events are awesome and I’m so
> glad we do them.
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The true character of a man is shown by how he treats his mother when she is
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