Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - Secrets & Techniques ...

“Secrets & Techniques” …

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

For many festivals and events, it is critical to have volunteers! For this edition of THE INSIDE SCOOP I still have a few questions for you here. Can you share with us some techniques on managing so many volunteers? During the Jazz & Blues in the Village it would seem the organizers would need to maintain their professionalism and composure. Perhaps volunteers/vendors/visitors require your attention at peak moments during an event (problems that need immediate answers).  I wondered if you have a system to help you stay organized and could you share some of your “secrets” with us! The reply …“Secrets and techniques:  We have one person who is responsible for organizing and scheduling all the volunteers.  There is a master list of over 250 volunteers and each year we start by contacting that list to see who is available.  In most cases we have more volunteers than available shifts.  Many of our volunteers have been with us since the first festival, nine years ago.  Our organizational structure has a “weekend warrior” who is responsible for each area in the park.  (For example, there is a “weekend warrior” in charge of main gate; one for the bar; one for bar tickets; one for security; one for park setup; one for popcorn etc. There are at least 12 of these weekend warriors who in turn are responsible for the volunteers for their area.  The weekend warriors are available all weekend to help their volunteers.  This frees up the committee members to deal with any issues that arise and help out.)”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - The Biggest Challenge ...

“The Biggest Challenge” …

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

I asked the Committee, “What are some of the challenges in organizing and presenting the Festival that the “visitors” do not see”? The reply … “Our biggest challenge is funding.  As a charity fundraiser we do not qualify for any art or tourism grants from local or provincial government sources.  It is difficult to compete with the free jazz and blues festivals around the province.  Most “visitors” find it hard to believe that we have to pay full scale plus expenses for the bands.  We rely on revenue from sponsors and ticket sales to cover our costs, plus generate funds for the charity.”  So how do they overcome some of these challenges? … “The last two years our marketing campaign has tried to focus on the fact that the event is a charity fundraiser.” How does Jazz & Blues in the Villagekeep things fresh” for the patrons and vendors? “We always try to bring in new entertainers, although fan favourites have been brought back for repeat performances.  We try to address feedback related to our food vendors.  For example this year we have tried to partner with more local restaurants and provide healthier options. Each year we try to add in something new like cheese and cracker plates to go with the wine.” I asked if the Committee could share some “problem solving techniques” used during this special event! (For example … a busload of visitors that were not planned for, weather conditions, volunteers/staff being absent due to unforeseen emergencies, running out of “supplies” during an event, etc.) … The Committee says …“We have had to deal with all the above over the years and have contingency plans in place.” I would like to asked similar questions about organizational techniques, problems solving techniques with respect to coordinating the Vendors and Performers and other key participants during Jazz & Blues in the Village. They share with us …“We have individuals on the planning committee who are responsible for the following areas: Music, food vendors, marketing and promotion, sponsors and grounds.  During the festival each committee member oversees their particular area of responsibility dealing with any problems.”
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - Two small groups are better than one ...

“Two small groups are better than one” …

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

My next question to the Committee … What was the philosophy and thought process of the decisions in respect to the concepts, activities, themes, events for Jazz & Blues in the Village? “The idea of a jazz festival grew out of the identification of a need to raise the profile of our charity, increase the funds available to support patients and a desire to offer something to the community.  We did not view direct fund raising as an appropriate means to raise funds but wanted to offer a unique event.  At the time, 2003-2004, jazz festivals were just appearing on the summer entertainment scene across Ontario and Canada.  The original concept was to start small and grow recognizing that it would take a minimum of 5 years to break even.  Because we are a very small, local charity we knew we could not develop the event on our own and so we invited the Mitton Business Development Association (a small shopping/business area long ignored by the City of Sarnia) to join with us in producing the festival thinking that two small groups could do good work together.  Some original aspects of the festival such as providing food were necessary to comply with liquor license requirements.  The vision of the founders was a street festival that would see the involvement of merchants with sidewalk sales/activities, strolling musicians, secondary stages along the street and the main stage in the municipal parking lot.   For the third year the festival relocated and the involvement of the merchants decreased as issues arose around the closure of the street.  We were invited to hold the festival at a city-owned park close by and the event morphed into more of a neighbourhood fall festival. The business owner who was the then chair of the BDA and his entire family are still involved in the festival with his wife Donna serving as our Festival Director.  A couple of businesses continue as sponsors.    We offer unique aspects with our festival including decorating the park with cornstalks and scarecrows.  Jazz & Blues in the Village is not just music in a park but is “a unique experience” as we invite people to “come and party under our tent”.
(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village - Sarnia - Demographics & Planning

“Demographics’ & Planning”

THE INSIDE SCOOP is fortunate to obtain interesting SCOOP from Donna Stewart, Jazz & Blues in the Village, Festival Director and the Committee continues …

Sometimes I wonder what types of people are interested in attending certain events/festivals. I asked the Committee … What is their demographic makeup, who attends … They state … “Although the key demographic group is probably 40 plus, the festival attracts people of all age groups from babies in buggies to great grandparents.  Friday and Saturday night Blues attracts a more youthful audience than our Saturday afternoon Jazz.  The last couple of years we have begun to attract more of the under 30 crowd to Saturday afternoon.” I find that it is wise to be aware of the key demographic groups to gear the activities to reflect this makeup. So just how far in advance do they “plan”… The answer …“We hold our windup party in October and our first planning meeting for the next year is in November.  We target to have our bands contracted by the end of February.”

During my interview, I will be writing (to enlighten Ontario Visited website visitors) some brief information about some of the signature events for this years Jazz & Blues in the Village. Is there anything you would like to add to enlighten our readers, particularly for this edition of THE INSIDE SCOOP?
“Our Saturday night blues is normally two different performers, an opening act and our headliner.  This year we are changing it up a little with Jack de Keyzer and friends doing the entire evening from 7:30 – 11:00.  Joining Jack for the evening are Jerome Godboo, Rick Taylor and Tim Woodcock.  It will be a little different but we think a lot of fun and great music.”

(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jazz & Blues in the Village, Sarnia - SODA & The Festival

SODA & The Festival
Impact in our Society Today ...

GettingTHE INSIDE SCOOPI focused on some specific questions that may help festivals, events, organizers, and others interested in SUCCESS in their endeavors and enhance the visitor’s knowledge!

I asked the Committee, how important is the “Jazz & Blues in the Village” focus of SODA aspect of this festival and how does it impact our society today? Otherwise stated … Why do you think Jazz & Blues in the Village is an important part of our society and the community today and what role do you see as its importance? The reply …“The importance of organ/tissue donation and transplantation continues to increase.  Jazz and Blues in the Village has allowed SODA to bring this important issue before the people of our community and the surrounding areas.  It uses music to connect to people of all ages and to spread the message about this important issue.  The Sarnia/Lambton donor registration rate has grown well above the Ontario average of 21% to 38%.  During each festival we honour donors, recipients, those on waiting lists and medical professionals through our opening ceremony.  A candle lit during the opening ceremony burns during the festival.”

“Key to Success”

My next question might interest other festivals/event organizers as I asked what the Committee attributed the success of Jazz & Blues in the Village to. Their “key to success” … “We attribute our success to the consistently high caliber of performers, good food, dedicated volunteers, sponsors and the up close and personal feel of the festival.  To quote attendees “the festival has never disappointed, it is always a great party”
(To Be Continued)