One day events across the country are part of what ArtServe does – a way of encouraging people from different regions to come together, share ideas and experiences, and experience creativity as a natural part of worship.
We have organised or co-organised successful events as far afield as Bristol and Thetford, Chislehurst and Evesham, Sketty (near Swansea) and Diss. We hope to be running more events in other areas (as well as returning to repeat some successes) over the next couple of years.
We can help put you in touch with other members in your area, and explore other ways of sharing existing experience with you. Just to get you started though here are a few tips.
1. Allow plenty of time
You will find that just developing the ideas will take a couple of months. Then you need to find speakers/facilitators (who may be booked up a long way in advance) and a venue. And there are a great many practical aspects to sort out as well. Think about a nine-month lead time from first discussions. The weeks will soon disappear!
2. Find a partner organisation
ArtServe benefitted enormously from working with the New Room in Bristol in for the day in June 2014. The ReCreate events in Thetford owed much to our friends at Lake House. Other events have been centered around a lively local church.
Advantages to partnering with another organisation include widening your circle of contacts for finding speakers and facilitators, tapping into additional networks for marketing, and perhaps having access to a central venue. Most important of all though is that this is a fantastic way to build creative relationships that will last, often well beyond the date of the event itself.
3. Think of a theme
Giving your day a theme will not only help you structure the content of your day, it will also be a useful marketing aid. (We chose the hymns of Charles Wesley as the theme for the Bristol day, and that theme immediately suggested other, linked ideas.)
4. Provide a balanced structure to the day
You might want to have a keynote speaker for a plenary session, as well as allowing plenty of time for hands-on activity. People will be coming because they want an opportunity to try out new ways of being creative. If you are able to provide a choice of workshops, or the chance to try more than one activity, this is likely to go down well. If the day’s creative activities can be fed into the closing act of worship, then participants can see direct applications for the techniques they have learned.
5. Keep your overheads down
Feedback from several of our regional days suggests that small numbers don’t detract from the quality of the experience – indeed they may enhance it. If you only have ten or twelve people signing up for the day, try not to be too despondent. However, you want to avoid making a loss or feeling too pressured. So try to find a venue that won’t charge you too much. Go for local speakers/facilitators as far as possible, to keep travel costs down, and ask people to bring a packed lunch.
6. Think about appropriate leaders
It is wonderful if you are able to secure a ‘big name’ to give a keynote or plenary address, but do be aware that you may have a number of talented speakers or facilitators in your circle already. Good leaders don’t have to be well known – particularly if they are working with small groups and making sure everyone has an opportunity to participate.
It is also a good idea to delegate leading the worship to a specific individual – if you are using a church or church hall for example, it would be appropriate to ask the Minister if he or she would like to lead the closing worship.
7. Publicise as hard as you can
Use all your local networks (Methodist circuits, Anglican Dioceses, Churches Together networks, local church groups – as many denominations as you can), the networks of any partner organisations, and keep ArtServe informed so we can help you publicise at a national level. Richenda compiles the bi-monthly e-newsletter, as well as editing the magazine three times a year. She is also one of the team who keeps the Facebook page up to date. Send any information to her at firstname.lastname@example.org – with as much notice as possible please.
8. Don’t panic!
Easier said than done of course, but most bookings come in late – i.e. in the last two or three weeks. So don’t feel you must cancel if you have only a handful of names signed up and just over three weeks to go. If you are really worried, do ask one of the Board members for advice – David Grimwood, Jacqui Hicks and Richenda have all been involved with organising similar days so do get in touch with one of us for advice and/or reassurance.
And finally, days like these are meant to be fun – for the organisers as well as the delegates. Try to leave space in the programme for you to take a little time just to relax and enjoy being there. Once a few months have passed, that is what you will remember.