Advice for Running and Organizing A&S Displays and Competitions

One of the most famous outlet for artisans to get feedback on their work is A&S competitions and displays. These are the opportunity to present their work and get (constructive) critiques about it. It’s also the occasion to meet like-minded artisans, and to exchange information and ideas.

Organizing A&S Competitions and Displays
If you want to organize an A&S competition and/or display at an event, but don’t know where to start, this section is for you. Hopefully it will answer the questions you could have.

What you will need: A few starting tips

  • The first thing you will need is to coordinate early with the event steward, and to decide what type of A&S activity you want to organize. Once that’s decided: advertise early, and then advertise again as the event gets closer.
  • A good practice is to bring tokens for artisans (and it’s also something that you can suggest while advertising)
  • Whether you’re organizing a competition or a display, there are things that you are going to need. Arrange with the event steward to have some space with tables and chairs, and some time booked for the A&S. If possible, arrange for it to happen in a central area, where more people will have the opportunity to observe the artisans’ work.
  • The day of the event, remember to advertise the activity again (a note by the gate, a herald to announce set up time and beginning, etc…).
  • Also have enough paper and pens.
  • Make of list of artisans, and ideally what they presented, and keep track of people who helped you organize. It will make thanking them easier. Your task will be much easier if you have enough people to help you.

Displays are organized so that people can show their work even if they don’t desire to enter a competition. Ideally, they should allow interactions and discussion between the artisans and people attending the event.

The things you have to plan, independently of the type of competitions are:

  • Is there a specific theme or not? (and this should be announced in advance)
  • Announcing the winners
  • Getting feedback (judging sheets) to the entrants.

Types of competitions

Populace choice
That type of competition is relatively easy to organize.  You don’t have to recruit judges in advance or prepare some judging form. There is some form of voting by the populace. Generally it is accomplished by giving a limited number of token(s) to people attending the event, which they can distribute to the various entries/entrants.

For that you need to acquire these token (beads or charms can be purchased cheaply) and consider whether you want a container or not next to each entry.
At the end of the voting time, all is left to do is count who/what received the most tokens.
In that case, there’s not much actual feedback going to the artisans. However, you can decide to let them keep the voting token, for bragging rights.

Artisan/Laurel Challenge
In these competitions, the entries are judged by the person issuing the challenge.

The first thing you will need to do is find the people willing to issue such a challenge, and once they have decided what their challenge(s) is(are) let it know.

Judged competition
In that type of competition, there will be a panel of judges who are going to evaluate the entries. You will need to recruit judges in advance. You can send a general call to specialized list (A&S list, or specific craft/guild list) but keep in mind that contacting people directly generally results in a higher response rate.

In the best world you will have an idea of how many artisans will be participating and what they are bringing. This will be a great help to organize the space, and might guide you towards dividing the entries between categories, and between judges of the corresponding specialty.

With thanks to Ysemay Sterling, Philip White, Isabel Chamberlaine, Galefridus Peregrinus, Alexandre Lerot d’Avigne and Tristan de Worrell.

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