Talks and films

Why include them? How to organise them?

By Lindy Sharpe

These add a lot of interest and variety, but also create extra work. They add to your costs (fees, travel expenses), but if they attract extra visitors they will also add to your takings. Schedule activities throughout the day and stick to the running time. Nothing is worse, for performers or visitors, than events where nothing happens at the stated time. You will need a separate room, with chairs for the audience, a space for the performer, and possibly a microphone. If you hire a film, you will also need a projector and screen. Someone will have to introduce the speaker, keep them running to time, and perhaps supervise a question sessions afterwards. Once activities are confirmed, publicize them. Have enough cash to pay fees and expenses on the day - and get receipts.

First, decide what you want

Discuss as a group what you would find interesting and useful - your customers are likely to share your interests. You might opt for a film, or a puppet show for children, or speakers. Aim to provide a variety of topics and a balance between the practical and the theoretical. Possible subjects include:

  • Seed politics - seed swapping, the domination of giant seed companies, how the seed listing process has outlawed traditional varieties
  • Food - climate change impact, real v processed food, globalizing food
  • Biodiversity - what it is and how seed swapping protects it
  • Practical - how to save seeds, how to grow vegetables, composting, allotment gardening, container growing, etc
  • Interest - heirloom varieties, the National Seed Library, other seed swaps
  • Linked subjects - local food, local environmental or gardening projects
Then put someone in charge

When you have agreed on the type of activities and the topics, appoint people to:

  • Contact speakers or performers, by letter or email. Don't be shy about approaching people - no one minds being asked! Be clear about what you are asking them to do: what the event is, where and when it is taking place, how much time they will have, the fee if you can afford one. Reimburse reasonable travel expenses and overnight accommodation if necessary. If they agree, send clear directions on how to find your event and ask what sort of equipment they will need. Just before the day, confirm that they are coming and check details.
  • Look after performers/speakers on the day. Make sure the room is ready. Greet them when they arrive, make sure they have what they need, make sure the audience knows they are performing, introduce them, and ensure they keep to time. Pay their fee and expenses.
  • For films, book both the film and any necessary equipment in advance, collect it on the day, set it up, and return it afterwards.
This page was added on 26/01/2008.