Stewards’ Handbook

Stewards Handbook

Please note: this document is not intended to be the Gospel of Event Stewarding. It is intended as a guide for people who have not run an event, at a local level, and wish to get some idea of what to consider when working on an event for the first time. If you take all this on board, and are seeking more, there are other resources around (listed at the end, some of them I’ve even drawn from for this document), or ask someone who has run events in the past.

 A) Event initiation

As a bare minimum, you should have an idea about the following:

Date – Pick a date that suits you and/or your group. Try to avoid conflicting with other nearby groups if you can. Don’t just look in the Lochac calendar for this year and see what is on, ask your neighbouring groups’ Seneschal.  Look in the same time last year, or in back issues of Pegasus, to see if there is a chance something else is going to get scheduled against you that hasn’t been announced yet.  Remember you are not allowed to run anything opposite one of the four Crown events if you are within 800km of them, unless you get the express permission of the Crown.

Location – Find a location that suits your event. For example: having a Ball in an open field will not work. Nor will holding a feast in a local community hall be the best option. Price is a factor but not the only thing to be aware of.

The venue you choose may have rules that you may need to be aware of & follow. Rules about candles and naked flames. Rules for consumption of alcohol. Check the hire documents and see if they need a legal representative of the SCA to sign them (in which case you need to forward them to the Board or Committee). When will they let you in to set up, and what time does the venue require you to be out by?

Unless it’s a spectacular venue, you’ll probably want to do some decorating. How hard will it be to mask the mundanity? Check the kitchen facilities – get the cook to review them and confirm he/she is happy to use the kitchen. It’s a good idea to make a note of what is there when you make the booking, and be prepared to complain if equipment is removed or turns out not to be working when you come to use it.

Don’t forget you’ll need a place for all your guests to park their vehicles. You may need to consider wet weather alternative venues, depending on the type of event you’re running.

Time – What day/time does it start? How long does it go for? When will particular activities happen?

B) Event details

Name – It helps to give your event a name. “Random Feast” just doesn’t quite have the ring of splendour about it. “Arabian Nights” if it’s themed like that, or “Fabulous Food” or anything that makes your event sound interesting. Points to note – conflict-checking the name; finding something catchy enough to attract people’s attention in the calendar, without being crass and mundane

Pricing – This is a bit of a tricky one. There are many guides to pricing an event. Basically, it comes down to expected prices divided by the number of people you expect (hope) to show up.

Steward – This is the person in charge of the event. IE: You.

Event type – There are many different types of events, and a lot of them hold simultaneous activities. You could have a Feast that includes a Ball, or a weekend camping trip that includes a Tournament as well as an A&S class.

Description – Pretty simple, describe your event. Make it sound fun and interesting. Give it a purpose if you can.

Booking information – A lot of groups now have designated Booking Officer email addresses, frequently this is checked and handled by the Steward. People use this email address to ask questions about the event, and to book a place.

Staff – You will need people to help you. These people are your Staff. The number of people you will need shall depend on the size and type of event you hold. Delegate to volunteers where you can if necessary. Also, who gets in for free? Just Royalty? Steward as well? This needs to be considered at some point.

 Advertising – Normally this is done through the announce email list & Pegasus, as well as the Lochac calendar. But don’t forget Facebook is a powerful tool, and one frequently used.

Project planning – Don’t underestimate the need for a timeline leading up to the event. Something showing what should be ready one month out, one week out, two days out, the day before and so on. You really want to avoid getting to the morning of the event and realising something hasn’t happened yet or hasn’t been allowed for.

C) Budget

Covers quite a few things. Including, but not limited to:

Preparing a budget

Determining expenditure

  • Kingdom Levy & GST (also possibly covered in other places, just checking to make sure)
  • Venue price
  • Foodstuffs
  • Consumables (eg: candles)
  • Decorations
  • Insurance

Determining ticket prices

Financial- what is available to the Reeves and Seneschals is not good enough for Stewards and does not give them a handle on what they must do. So it needs to be included. Things to include;

Budget, very specifically things like how to determine ticket price, who can come in for free, who cannot come in for free, how many people are allowed to come in for free. Making sure that when the budget is done it is not based on all the attendees being adults and all paying at the highest pay rate. I have seen some budgets that claim that this group regularly gets 80+ people to an event, which that group does but it doesn’t look at the fact that regularly 25+ of those people are children and this drastically impacts on the amount of money that will be available to the event.

Handling expenditure

cash advances – to pay for things that have a known cost

reimbursements – to pay people back for things they’ve bought for the event

paying suppliers – to pay for stuff

Handling income

Payments in advance

Handling cash (floats and receipts)

It should be stressed to Stewards and Feast Cooks – especially new ones – that keeping receipts is one of the most important jobs, especially if they want reimbursement. Talking to a Reeve might be a great idea for this section, but off the top of my head, receipts should be readable, scanned in and sent to the local Reeve in a timely fashion and preferably should only include items you are seeking reimbursement for – ie; if you need to buy cinnamon for the Baronial feast, don’t get it on your weekly shopping trip on the same receipt.

It’s important to note liquor license laws for each State, (not a lawyer, not legal advice disclaimer) from my understanding – at least here in SA – if there is a fee to enter the event (not insurance), and any persons are consuming alcohol (doesn’t matter if it’s free/paid/provided or byo, simply consumption) then a liquor licence is required.

I’m terrible with finances, so I won’t offer much more here, other than to say from a psychological standpoint, if your cost per head comes to say $31, people are statistically more likely to pay $35 than $32. Numbers that are multiples of 5 tend to work best (25, 30, 35, etc).

Floats – consider how many people are likely to pay by cash, and the likely denominations you’re going to receive and plan your float denominations accordingly. Eg, If your base event fee is $25, make sure you have plenty of $5 and $10 notes in the float to allow you to give change for people that give you $40. If your event fees have a range of different prices, make sure to have plenty of small denominations to make up the required change for different amounts.

If the vast majority of those attending have paid in advance, your float will not have to be very large.

Also, for larger events, consider hiring an EFTPOS machine (check with group financial policy). Short term hires of these devices are relatively cheap, but will need to be done some months ahead of the event, particularly as (in New Zealand) you need to set up a merchant account first for the funds to be paid into and then be forwarded to your main bank account. Having an EFTPOS machine will drastically reduce the amount of cash you take, which has a number of advantages, and make it easier for overseas travellers to pay if it allows credit card transactions. Credit card transaction fees will differ depending on cards used, the average value of each transaction and the total sale volume. In NZ as of January 2016, the rate starts at just over 5% if your sales volume is less than $500 and average transaction less than $30, and reduce to about 2% if the sales volume is $50,000 or more and average transaction is more than $1,000. Consider how much you will likely take in by credit card, and the transaction amounts and whether it’s worthwhile adding the credit card fees to the payable amount if people wish to pay by this method.

reconciling payments to bookings – important

D) Food Preparation

  • Foodstuffs – Vary between events. Take care to allow for, if you can, dietary requirements & intolerances
  • Pre-cooking and storage.
  • Re-heating & fresh food.
  • Food serving timing  (eg: first remove at 6:30pm, second at … )
  • Sanitary practices ie: WASH YOUR HANDS!!

E) Activity timetable

  • Preparation (getting things from storage places -> either house or rental)
  • Set up (tables, chairs, decorations, area boundaries, etc)
  • Doors open
  • Activity timing (First dance set, Inspections at X am, Court, etc)
  • Scheduled end
  • Clean up/Pack up/Close up

F) Additional Considerations

Royalty/Court

First and foremost, stewards are going to want to a) confirm Crown is attending, b) determine if crown is attending *as Crown* and c) ensure that event advertisements hit Pegasus in suitable time if Crown is wanting to do court and give awards.

Following that, assigning a person to serve as a dedicated Royal Liaison is typically a solid move. It might be wise to look towards the local Royal Peers first, as they’ve done the job and have a better understanding of the needs of the Royals, but really you just need someone dedicated enough to see the job through and is preferably good with social skills. The Crown may even designate a person of Their choosing to this role (ie: the Royal Chamberlain).

If the Crown is travelling a fair distance, the local group may wish to offer funds to help the Crown travel. This will depend on group finances, how far the Crown has to travel, and the wishes of the local populace.

For small or remote groups that wish to encourage a Crown attendance to a (relatively) big event, your chances of success will be increased by inviting the Crown with plenty of notice and offering money to assist with their travel.

Finally, it’s a good idea to arrange a Royal room of some sort. Basically an out of the way room with comfy chairs, maybe Tea/Coffee/etc, where the Royals can retire in peace and quiet and not have anyone bug them.

Emergency Response Plan

Should there be an emergency of some kind, you will need to deal with it in an appropriate manner. The first step is – DON’T PANIC. You need to remain calm & clear headed at all times to deal with the situation properly. If someone is need of emergency medical attention, have someone call the emergency hotline (000 in Aus, XXX in NZ) and get them to stay on the line until an ambulance turns up. If there is a person who is (insert suitable illegal behaviour here) and you’re not able to diffuse the situation yourself, call the emergency hotline to get local authorities to deal with the crisis. You get the idea.

After all of this, you will need to inform the group Seneschal, Kingdom Seneschal. These eventsinclude this happening in your report, so write down what happened after the situation has concluded. Ask someone else, who was involved/watching, to write a statement/report as well, to go along with yours. Include this

G) Aftermath

Reports

Referenced Resources:

http://www.sca.org.au/innilgard/events/RunningAFeast.html

https://tastesfromtournai.wordpress.com/the-feasting-primer/

http://politarchopolis.lochac.sca.org/how-to-run-a-feast-without-hurting-yourself-andor-getting-executed-for-treason/

http://sg.sca.org.nz/stewarding/

http://ildhafn.lochac.sca.org/stewards

Additional Acknowledgments:

Lady Gwenhwyfar ferch Elena

Lord Nicodemus Novello

Combined Might of the Seneschals of Lochac

By seneschal | Link