Heritage Open Days Media Manager, Harriet Roberts shares her own experience of organising festival activities and the highs and lows of working with committees.
Someone once said, ‘A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.’ I'm speaking from experience here, as a hub organiser of the Blackburn Heritage Festival, trying to get as many venues and organisations to commit to doing something for Heritage Open Days on the same weekend in September. Committees, I'm afraid, are sometimes the only way to get things sorted but also the main source of delay!
So many volunteer groups, who only meet on a monthly basis, get back in touch at the eleventh hour. Then they are disappointed and frustrated to be told that the closing date for national registration with Heritage Open Days passed at the beginning of August and that all the local listings and publicity materials have gone to print.
It may be only January but don't be fooled into thinking there’s bags of time to get organised. With online registration opening on 8 March and closing on 1 August, if you are just meeting monthly there's really a very short window to get your group together.
Of course, you may be an HODs old hat and have been doing this event for years in which case you will no doubt have a tried and tested formula and a team who have got this off to a fine art. If this is your first time though there's a lot to think about before you are able to upload your final listing information to take maximum advantage of the power of national publicity and being part of this high profile festival. If you take out the dates of holidays when you are not scheduled to get together and those annoying unexpected meetings when the key decision makers are unexpectedly away, time can soon get eaten away.
It can take longer than you think to work out your opening times and volunteer rota, confirming who is free to be on hand that weekend in September. Before you know it that nice new 2016 calendar soon gets filled up, everyone is busy and the year has run away with itself.
So don't wait till the summer, get Heritage Open Days on your committee meeting agenda this month!