Magical Elfwood Forest planned for Derry’s Guildhall


Derry’s Guildhall is currently undergoing a festive make over, with elves, Christmas films and tales from Santa’s wife all planned for the coming weeks. On December 9, 10, 16 and 17, the Mayor has arranged for the Guildhall to be transformed into Elfwood Forest by a special elf coming direct from the North Pole.

Ellie the Elf will lead children into the enchanted forest which is being created at the Mayor’s Parlour in the Guildhall.

Read more at: Magical Elfwood Forest planned for Derry´s Guildhall

Last weeks’s announcement of Budget 2017 saw Minister Heather Humphrey’s announce a range of funding for the Arts and Heritage bodies., which included a boost in funding to all of the National Cultural Institutions. 

An additional €5 million in funding for the Arts Council – an 8 percent increase in its annual funding. This was a warmly welcomed by all those involved as it will allow them to continue their work supporting artists and arts organisations.

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Overall funding for the Arts was cut by 16 percent but spending on Centenary projects won’t need to be included in the budget for next year so therefore funding is up by about €18 million.

The Irish Film Board received an extra €2 million, increasing their annual budget to €16 million for 2017. This will allow them to expand on the major successes of 2016.

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Minister Humphreys announced €2 million for the opening of the restored wings at the National Gallery and the opening of Killarney House, an additional €1 million for the Heritage Council and funding of €5 million for the implementation of the Culture 2025/Ireland 2016 Legacy Programme. Further details on this are due to be announced by the Minister in the coming weeks.

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AOIFE is proudly supporting the National campaign for ARTS



AOIFE is proudly supporting the National campaign for ARTS and urges everyone who meets a public representative at your Culture night activity this weekend to remind them of our pre – budget submission ! The ask is quite small but the reach is something else . Attached is a downloadable letter your festival or arts organisation can send to your TD/s , Senators especially those supporting the minority Government at this time. The Campaigns pre-budget submission is attached for easy reference also !
As the 1916 centenary draws to a close, the National Campaign for the Arts is launching its call for a #republicofculture.

The NCFA has made a huge impact over the past months and it’s important that this great work continues. Last week Jo Mangan, Olwen Dawe, Angela Dorgan and Eugene Downes made a presentation to the opening session of the Joint Committee on the Arts, and a meeting with Minister Heather Humphreys has been arranged for the end of September.

This week, Culture Night takes place around the country, and at the Government is finalising the Budget same time the major political parties are hosting their annual think-ins to decide on policy and strategy for the coming year.

We’re asking NCFA members to write to your local TDs, Senators and Councillors to call for the following:
Retention of the €50 million allocated for Commemorations to the Department of Arts Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs, and for that money to be ring-fenced for allocation to The Arts Council and the Film Board.

Restoration of €30 million worth of cuts imposed on the Arts Council and aim to reach at least €180 million annual budget for the Arts Council within the life of the next government

Social welfare reform to allow artists to pursue their careers with dignity

Implement tax breaks to stimulate corporate and philanthropic investment in the arts and to grow the creative industries

Establish a separate Lottery fund, separate and distinct from Arts Council funding for diversification of grant allocation

Reclassify Local Authority Arts spending as non-discretionary

Actively fund creative industries and arts activity via Local Enterprise Offices and LEADER funds

Implement the Arts in Education Charter

Extend Junior Cycle Review to include Dance, Drama, and Music

Introduce Drama and Dance as a subject in Secondary Schools

Shift government education investment policy from a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) to STEAM focus. STEM + Art = STEAM
If you haven’t been in touch with your local politicians yet, this is a great opportunity to do so. If you’re already in contact with them, please follow up with an update.

We’re also inviting you to use the hashtag #republicofculture and tag your local politicians in your Culture Night social media activity. Get your audiences and artists to photograph themselves with the hashtag and share widely.

I’m attaching a copy of the NCFA’s pre-budget submission, and a sample letter for you to use to connect with your local politicians, which can also be downloaded from the NCFA Templates Google Drive folder.

Please share widely with arts workers and allies in your constituency, and please let me know if you have any further questions. Please continue to update me on meetings with politicians and local developments.

All best wishes,

Tom Creed
National Constituency Coordinator
The National Campaign for the Arts




AOIFE Awards

The AOIFE Awards are back this year to celebrate the best festival visual marketing of the season.

These annual awards celebrate the best of the Irish festival marketing materials and highlight the quality of the work undertaken by festival committees across the country.

Entry could not be easier; simply place marketing materials from your event (posters, programme, flyers, tickets, merchandise) in an envelope and send it to AOIFE, Enterprise & Technology Centre, Ballinasloe, Co Galway. Closing date for entries October 16th.

No Entry Fee, No Forms to Fill out!

You can even enter your material in the competition before your event; we are happy to accept it once you have the materials printed and are ready to launch.

Below are the categories

* Best Overall Marketing

* Best Website

* Best Poster

* Best Flyer

* Best Programme

* Best Merchandise

* Best Photograph
The Donal O’Driscoll Media Award is an award presented to the media programme which has the best promoted and represented festivals.


14 things we don’t need anymore at events

Times are changing and so should our habits. Here are 14 things eventprofs are still using at events… but shouldn’t.

Don’t blame it on us if we want to have some fun. Changes are happening in our beloved industry. While it looks like we are finally dropping that stereotype of eventprofs so well portrayed in the movies of the 90’s, we can surely get rid of some other things that eventtech and clever meeting design have given a big kick in the butt to.

So join us in this ride looking at 14 things we can do without nowadays. Of course you may be emotionally attached to some of them, but even the kid in Toy Story let his Woody go. Our industry has grown up, we can do better.

  1. Paper Badges

Badges require a heavy logistic effort and carry a lot of waste when not recycled. They are also very dumb. Even the latest QR code introduction does not make them more appealing. Technically they are just a piece of paper and we are not impressed.

You can do better. Mobile Apps, beacons, RFID, NFC badges. The possibilities are endless. Badges become the remote control of your event. They let you check into places by just walking by. You can purchase merchandise, drinks, food. You can participate in games, you can quickly share content on social media. Smart badges offer powerful real time analytics and they offer incredible feedback mechanisms.


2. PowerPoint

You can do better. We won’t suggest a list of alternatives to PowerPoint. Get creative and think about other ways to get speakers to illustrate their point. Mix the types of media you can use: video, images, sounds, objects. In some types of events slides will always be necessary, they are almost expected by the audience. You can make a difference as an event professional. You can give precise guidelines or even coaching to your speaker as to how they need to use and not abuse the tool. It takes a lot of charisma and experience to talk without slides and experience. Get the speakers to use slides as part of the new speaking mix – mobile app, live interaction tool, throwable or app powered mic, props, music. The more the merrier.

3. Showguides

It always astounds us at events to hear complaints about the lack of a showguide – a print programme with the highlights of the show. Apparently you can’t just rely on apps. Apparently you will never be able to take a printed guide completely away. Let’s have a reality check. What’s good about having a static print guide that is usually the size of a phone book, cost gazillions to print, nobody wants to sponsor and leaves a carbon footprint that should make you embarrassed?

Why? Because some people will never do without.

We are all about respecting each and every attendee. We are also about pushing tech tools when there is an audience and appetite for that. In this day and age even your Grandma is on Facebook, so don’t say people cannot use their mobile to download an event app.

You can do better than that. Event Mobile Apps are a multi billion business. There must be a reason for that. More and more attendees download apps for events. Of course you can keep having your show guide if you really need to and if your audience is not a match. But if you are not 100% behind your app, nobody will be. We have witnessed events that go above and beyond and make the app a true necessity. A print guide then becomes irrelevant. Be wise, use interactive displays, social media walls, newsreels. There is still a place for print but that is not within the event industry.

4. Business Cards

You can do better. Invite attendees to take advantage of social networks and optimize your network with the existing technologies. Use smart badges, contact business cards, beacon business cards. You name it. The alternatives are so many our head hurts.

Of course there will always be some people that will use them blah blah blah blah blah and blah. The thing is that you, as an event professional, can encourage attendees to use better ways to connect rather than producing an incredible amount of waste.

5. Feedback Forms

Not only is this a waste of trees but are these “forced” responses reliable and is this immediate feedback even worth the effort? In the Event App Bible Adrian Segar suggests that we need to be looking for evaluation gathered over a longer term to really know how successful our event was. You need to optimize this important process. But you have known that for a long time already!

You can do better. There are myriads of digital based solutions today that take away the pain of typing up the responses. From touch screen surveys at the event, to surveys pushed to attendees via the event app, to social media, to online survey tools; create opportunities for your participants to share their thoughts about their experience. Increase the response rate by compelling them to share their feedback to get their certificate of attendance, or by gamifying the process and offering lucrative prizes, such as tickets to next years event!.

6. Q&A

By allowing some time for Q&As at the end of a session, in theory you can encourage your participants to share their own knowledge and go deeper behind the speaker’s presentation. If executed badly or just done for the sake of it though it can be unimaginative, dull or sometimes infuriating. Time is lost when the microphone travels between attendees, someone asks a meaningless question, hogs the mic or the question isn’t heard by the whole room. At times like these the audience might be forgiven for thinking they are in a timewarp.

You can do better. Microphones can be fun! Use throwable microphones or invest in an app based microphone operated via your attendees smartphones. Shake it up and do questions differently or build into the event programme questions to the speaker with a dedicated Ask Me Anything session.

Invest in a live display Q&A feed to encourage all audience members to participate, not just the most confident speakers, and enable the questions to be moderated and ‘voted up’ to determine which questions are most popular and given prominence. Speakers or panel members may have more time to formulate their answer.

Don’t ignore the wisdom of the crowd and think the speakers have all the answers though. Put the power in the hands of your participants by allowing them to jump in the discussion and share their own knowledge for a richer experience for everyone.

7. Registration Desks

The first interaction with your event is often the check-in process so it is important that you get it right. Tables of counters, rows of badges, long queues, clueless and untrained temp staff and confusion may not give the best impression or welcome as people arrive on site at your event. Your participants are itching to dive right in or get a coffee, they don’t want to waste time in the entrance lobby.

You can do better. By setting up desks you are creating an instant barrier between your staff and the event guests and as soon as it gets busy people are forced to queue. Consider using tablet devices and standing to welcome your participants wherever the crowds need you most.

Scan a ticket or type a name to trigger their badge being printed automatically, rather than searching through upside down name badges to try to find an elusive badge not in alphabetical order. Nothing gives away how many people haven’t bothered to turn up and screams “waste” more than pre-printed badges!

Self service stations might also be a solution, as long as someone is still on hand to reassure those that are less tech-savvy how to use this modern-fangled technology. Whether you use technology or not the biggest request is that you have knowledgeable, well-briefed, friendly staff as your registration staff get all possible questions asked to them and “I’m not sure” is simply not an acceptable answer.

8. Walkie Talkies

You can do better. Unless you are planning an event in a venue that doesn’t provide any WiFi and phone signal, there are several communications apps that can ensure a reliable and smooth connection between your team members and replace your event radios. From one-on-one private chat or group video or voice calls, to links and document sharing, these solutions can answer all your communications needs.

Provide your team with smartphones or tablets, et voilà! Instead of lugging an event radio and mobile phone everywhere just focus on one compact solution.

Just remember your chargers and emergency power packs. Over and out.

9.   Ring Binders Full of Paper

Keeping all the vital details regarding your event, such as guest lists, invoices, contracts, timelines and budgets, is simply inefficient. You guard your event binder with your life, but the information contained is already out of date and relying on a folder means that it can be easy to lose, too slow to find the answer or update any information, and you can quickly look like a crazy person scanning through all your documents.

You don’t want this to impact on your image, or to be responsible for a data protection breach. And think of all the trees! Today going paperless is a winner on all counts.

You can do better. Use a cloud based project planner – whether you use a dedicated event management software or your team collaborates through online docs – this will ensure you have the most current data at your fingertips. Not only will your content be backed-up automatically, but you will be able to find any piece of information instantly and access your documents on any device. Carrying your laptop, tablet or even your smartphone, looks much better than a bursting binder, believe me!

10. Cash

You can do better. You don’t want to limit the event revenue generated so think about how to go cashless on site. You can of course provide mobile temporary cash points but can you do better than that? Encourage your traders to make mobile card payment systems available, such as solutions which work via a mobile phone connection. Many festivals operate a simple token system where tokens are exchanged for food and drinks.

Better still, RFID solutions are already implemented at some events, so why not join the trend? Attendees need to link their credit card to their electronic wristband (or ring) and can purchase anything with just a touch of the wrist (or finger). Bracelets are safe and solutions often associate them with a pin code or fingerprint to secure the system.

11. Speakers

There are a lot of amazing speakers out there. There are also a lot of average speakers. Sometimes speakers will express their views on situations they haven’t actually personally experienced and lose credibility with the audience or not nail the point they were trying to put across. Sometimes the event planner simply hasn’t briefed them well enough and should take the blame!

The world is changing and people often value the word of their peers more than that of experts anyway, think about the tremendous success of Trip Advisor. We will believe someone with whom we can relate to more than a travel expert. And while speakers are still generally the main ingredient of a conference, perhaps there are some alternatives you can use to mix up your programme and provide your attendees with a more valuable experience.

You can do better. Think of inventive substitute formats, rather than always relying on a speaker. Use video, interviews, small group work, forum theatre, unconference formats, or invite the audience on stage spontaneously or interview them.

It can be much more powerful to hear from the subjects themselves even if they are not a polished speaker, it makes it more human. Workshops are another powerful way to convey content, and enable attendees to learn directly from their experiences and from the learnings of others. Modern tech twists to traditional meeting formats are covered in Engaging Events, our latest free report.

12. To Take Everything So Seriously

You can do better. Commit to doing things differently. Create a relaxing atmosphere and promote your participants’ well being by incorporating games, humor and fun within your event. Reverse your attendees’ mindset by offering them an opportunity to leave their responsibilities behind and try something new. Encourage your sponsors to unbooth their units and welcome their clients in an enticing and comfortable set up. Team games can not only be a great ice-breaker but also promote networking and cooperation.

13. Maps

You can do better. Going digital will save you from this situation. Touchscreens, interactive displays with 3D floor plans or event apps featuring geolocation will not only be very handy for you when you will need to make amendments, but will also provide an additional opportunity to offer more interactivity to your participants and perhaps generate some additional sponsorship revenue.

14. Staffing Agencies

Delegating your staffing requirements to an agency may seem easy, but unless you trust them with your life, you might find yourself on the morning of your event with totally unsuitable staff and no time to make changes.

You can do better. Event planners are cutting out their intermediaries more and more, and doing everything directly. Control freak by nature, perhaps, but they are building a pool of trusted staff and suppliers that they know they can rely on. Relevant online platforms can directly connect available staff and events, guaranteeing reliable personnel who have been reviewed by other event planners to ensure you get the most professional and relevant staff for your event.

In Conclusion

As event professionals we are always short on time and will sometimes rely on traditional solutions as it seems like the quickest or easiest thing to do. Maybe we have always done it that way and taking the leap to do things differently fills you with fear. But so we can focus on the important content and real experience of our event, rather than the admin and logistics, now is the time to make the change.


Arts Council announces Round 1 of Festivals and Events Scheme 2017

The Arts Council announces Round 1 of Festivals and Events Scheme (FES) 2017. The aim of the scheme is to support a diverse range of arts festivals and events. The scheme’s focus is primarily placed on public engagement and activities that have the arts as their core and foundation.

The FES is open to multi-disciplinary festivals, single art form festivals, once-off events and concert series. There are two strands of funding available:

Strand 1: Up to €10,000.

Strand 2: Between €10,001 and €20,000.

All first-time applicants or those who previously received funding below the €10,000 threshold in their most recent application must apply under Strand 1 of the Scheme. Those applicants who were offered €10,000 or more (up to €20,000) in their most recent application should apply for Strand 2.

The FES is open to organisations promoting festivals or events with a clear artistic purpose and that will take place in the first half of the calendar year 2017. Applications for funding in the second half of the year should wait for Round 2 to become available.

Applications will be assessed  under the following criteria:

  1. Artistic merit and ambition.
  2. Meeting the objectives and priorities of the Scheme.
  3. Feasibility (including financial and other support).

The closing date for applicants is Thursday September 29.

For further information and to apply follow the link below: