Conventions!

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Conventions!

Post  dorothy7774 on Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:29 pm

If you had to organize a bonsai convention, which format would you go by? And from your past experience what did you like about bonsai conventions and what did you dislike? Please also include your view (quality,cost effectiveness) regarding the workshop material/demo material offered.

I appreciate any feedback on the issue.

Thanks,
dorothy

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Re: Conventions!

Post  Tony on Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:29 am

Hi Dorothy,

I have organised and been on various committees of both large and small bonsai events... In no particular order

Venue: this must be large enough, with good level access, lighting and facilities.
Location: easy to get to, good directions and city centre if you want large numbers of visitors
Exhibition: the very best trees you can get... Plus some trees that have never been seen before
Traders: look after them, do not Fund the event on their backs, have a good mix, not all potters or yamadori sellers, offer reiki or suchi alongside the traders.
Demos/lectures: secure bonsai artists that TALK and explain what they are doing, do not dismiss home grown talent
Demo material: again get the best you can, even refining exisiting bonsai
Judging: get someone from out of town... Even from another country
Duration: one day good, two day better, three day... Gets expensive
Workshops: manage expectation... Have open workshops that visitors can watch but NOT talk or contribute
Entrance fees: day fee: 5 times the price of a local beer

Lots more if you want to PM me

Tony

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Re: Conventions!

Post  dorothy7774 on Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:34 pm

Thank you, Tony. These are all very good points. Expect my pm.. Very Happy

-dorothy

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Re: Conventions!

Post  fiona on Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:59 pm

I don't see it on Tony's original list (but I shouldn't be surprised if he covers at length it offline as it is very much his speciality), but give thought to sponsors for the event. Either one sole sponsor which may be difficult to find or several sponsors each covering a particular area - e.g. sponsoring the headline artists/the catering (& the beer)/ the demo mateiral etc. Have a definite "marketing plan" to take to potential sponsors outlining clearly what you want from them and what they can, in return, get out of it. Unless you have some real philanthropists near you, the last bit is prolly what possible sponsors really want to hear - no such thing as a free lunch yada yada. But as I say, Tony is yer man for the real gen on that side of things.

Having organised a couple of events in Scotland, my other advice would be first - gather unto ye a committee that you know you can work with and who you know will work for you as well - i.e. people with "specialisms" and people who will be in your team and not be "freelancing" behind your back and undermining things - whether intentionally or unintentionally. Second - be very clear on the purpose of the event. For example, is this a public exhibition that is trying to showcase bonsai to the wider public? Is it a "closed doors" event that is purely for existing bonsaiists? Or a bit of both? Eveything else falls into place a bit more easily once that call is made. e.g. don't advertise the event solely in bonsai mags and forums if you want to attract the wider public and so on.

And above all, if you're going to all this trouble, don't settle for second best in terms of trees. When I pay to get into an art gallery, I want to see Monet and Degas etc. I don't want to see wee Jeanie's frightful daubs from the church's Friday afternoon Watercolouring and Scone Eating group even if she has turned up every week since 1957 and makes delicious tray bakes. Very Happy Warning!!! as we have seen so often, you will not please all of the folk when being selective - this when a committee that is for you comes into its own. Don't let people browbeat you into putting on an exhibition of crap. If there are "political" decisions to make over whose trees are included, be smart and have side show exhibits and call 'em things like "trees in progress" for those that are there solely to pander to a sponsor or whatever.

Good luck. Don't forget to order your kevlar vest well in advance. If nothing else, you'll never want for cutlery again! Evil or Very Mad

Oh and remember to arrange your convention for a time when I can get over to it! Wink

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Re: Conventions!

Post  Chris Cochrane on Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:52 pm

Hi Dorothy... My experience isn't so deep, but I have some memorable experiences.

One of my best experiences was meeting friends & strangers introduced by friends at a little snack bar running for the conference-- not the hotel's facility for the general public.

We see thoughtful folks willing to share time with visitors that aren't so knowledgeable in many places. I ask of people not seen for years who have shared in that way.

A decision to have off-stage time for headliners to work on significant material brought better results than the common headliner who must entertain & wire simultaneously, or nearly so. Recalling a teacher and his student (Vaughn Banting & Gary Marchal) working/talking together & with a few visitors in such an offstage setting was extraordinary.

Assuring that someone knowing the value of auction items is an active participant in the audience helps even in local club meeting auctions.

Treat registrants & visitors as your most valued customer... closely followed by volunteers, vendors, headliners & symposium officials. Perhaps, use the reverse-order of official status in assuring individual respect.

Did I mention dancing girls?

Thanks for sharing. Remembering successful conventions is a joy.

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Re: Conventions!

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:46 am

Chris Cochrane wrote:Did I mention dancing girls?

And lots and lots and lots of beer! Hoochies are only so good without the beer.

This has been insightful, thanks!

R

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Re: Conventions!

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