Event Expectations - Part I
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Article ID: 6170
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,014
Times Read: 7,567
Author: Patricia Telesco [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: March 2nd. 2003
Times Viewed: 7,567
In the last decade it's been my pleasure and privilege to speak at over 200 neo-pagan events. Some were great, some good, some not so good, but at each one everyone involved had specific expectations. And in our humanness not all of those expectations are realistic or fair.
Speakers and teachers (those not vending) expect to have students. That's not unreasonable. After all, they've taken the time to put together materials, ponder how to teach those materials, and come to the event (often at their own cost). This means that a venue needs solid community support by way of both pre-event advertising and pre-event sales. Sadly, those two things don't always happen. Folks, if you're planning to go to a gathering - PLEASE make a reservation so speakers and teachers don't cancel thinking their knowledge isn't wanted or appreciated.
Now having said that, there are certainly times when we must step back from ego and say, "those who are meant to be here, are here." I've been to some low-attendance events that turned out to be real winners from an educational and spiritual standpoint. There was a quality to the community there -- a sense of oneness and hope among the attendees that ignored the minor disappointment in the numbers in favor of embracing the moment and what it offered. I think that's a great outlook, and it's one worthy of emulation.
Artists, writers, and vendors "expect" that a venue will provide them with good exposure, a chance to touch base with the community, and also manifest some sales with which to pay a bill or two. We anticipate that when we're asked to come somewhere or that when our application for an event is accepted, our presence would then be advertised, warmly welcomed, and also help improve attendance. Whatever terms and conditions are set forth in the pre-event agreement, one would "expect" to be met by all parties without having to remind people, or shame them into doing the right thing. Again these are reasonable expectations, but all too often left unmet especially among those newer to the circuit that do not fully understand the fine details that make for a successful venue. Basically, no matter who you are in the scheme of an event, make sure you keep your promises and meet your responsibilities. If you cannot, find someone who can.
When any guest discusses the possibility of coming to an event they "expect" common courtesy and a reasonable level of appreciation for their time. It amazes me that some Facilitators blatantly ignore the fact that traveling away from home has very real costs involved. It takes time away from paying work. It takes time away from families (sometimes incurring daycare fees). It puts a crunch on deadlines. It means doubling up household chores so mundane tasks are not neglected. It means extending a lot of personal energy to hit the road, speak, and be basically "ON" for the entire duration of the event. Yet in some cases we're "expected" to teach 8 or more classes over the duration of a weekend for nothing more than a room and free entry to the event, and the "expectation" that we'll sell enough goods to balance out our costs! Yes, you heard me right -- some events expect their teachers to pay full price to attend... because, by the gods, they should do so for the shear love of it! To my thinking that is NOT an equal exchange of energy in any way, shape or form. It is one thing if a person wishes to offer services, or if an individual has vows about what manner of compensation they can (and cannot) receive. It's another altogether when we begin to take advantage of neo-pagan good heartedness.
This brings me to a great point brought to my attention by Yasmine Galenorn, a mystery and metaphysical writer of such titles as The Chintz 'n China Mystery Series and Sexual Ecstasy and the Divine
Friends often forget that I'm offering workshops because I'm an expert in the subject, not because I only want to teach. I'm an author by career; and while my writing and workshops are fun, they are also the way in which I make my living. I get so frustrated when friends who lead events expect me to offer my services or books gratis, even though they're paying for other speakers to attend. Friendship doesn't automatically guarantee a free ride. If, for example, one of them has a day job as a chef and I ask them to come to my house, to bring all the ingredients for a seven-course dinner, pay their own transportation, and prepare this incredibly fancy meal for a group of my friends for free, they'd be miffed and rightly so. In the same way, it takes time and thought and energy to prepare and lead workshops; just like it takes time and thought and energy to write the books our readers love. Therefore, event leaders shouldn't be surprised when an author refuses to attend without compensation, and readers shouldn't balk at having to pay for the information we are offering. Her feelings are mirrored in many ways and expanded upon on Grey Cat's booking page (Grey Cat is the author of Deepening Witchcraft and a practitioner of 20+ years) http://greycat.cc/gcbooking.html. It's well worth a read!
This is a good point to step back and remind people that most presenters either work full time beyond their community service, or put in far more than 40 hours a week to write or create materials FOR the community. Our average weeks can run long into the 70-hour range when you add in travel. And while there are some perks to this (being your own boss) there are also headaches -- like the necessity of being very self-responsible, organized, and focused. There is no one but you when you're self-employed -- if you don't do it (or your shop) it doesn't get done. That means when we're not at our "shop" (be that a living room, garage, or work room) we're loosing valuable production time not to mention the mundane considerations already discussed. You too can have this fanciful lifestyle for what amounts to less than $1 per book sold among writers, and sometimes HALF that amount (can you imagine putting upwards of 700 hours into a book for that sum?). This brings up yet another issue.
(Continued... Next Week)
The Witches' Voice
March 3rd., 2003
Location: Amherst, New York
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