The day had finally arrived, my first large event working in arts administration, or indeed working at all! We arrived at the site around 8am and with bleary eyes we went about making last minute arrangements. Myself and project historian Dave Reeves went around the village putting up signs directing visitors, and displaying info on certain historical sites such as the old co-op shop and the forge. When people started arriving, myself and my musical duo partner Rosie Butler-Hall played music at our assigned spots at the church and village hall. We capitalised on the professional photographer being there by getting him to take some good publicity pictures of us!
The visitors all seemed happy, well fed and watered; there was a hog roast that I’d organised, villagers selling cakes in the village hall and free apple juice, pressed that morning from apples from the community orchard. People had lots to see but also lots to do, Lyndall and Miranda were holding workshops throughout the day, adding to the artwork which the other workshops had produced. The co-op shop was slowly getting fuller.
More attractions opened throughout the day with the farmers’ exhibitions on the green getting going with the 1920s threshing machine they had brought being fired up and hay bales being produced by it.
In addition, two young volunteers opened the forge, fired it up and worked some metal on it. Dave was down there explaining about the history of it to the onlookers also.
It was a great day, it was so rewarding to see exhibited, the creative efforts of people of all age groups who had themselves been inspired by their local history. It was a brilliant, educational event to be involved with and so fun to organise. However, a revelation that hit me on the day is the amount of feedback we were required to collect. As a public funded project, through the Heritage Lottery Fund, we had to accurately report the day to them and how it met their requirements. In addition, evaluation is needed to secure funding for future projects and also to reassure funders that they did invest well, especially in an age where funding is being cut all over the arts sector. I was put to work, in my free minutes when I was not playing, handing out surveys for people to fill in. Not the most enjoyable thing on the day, but very important, and a very good insight into the behind-the-scenes work which makes the valuable community work arts administration does possible!