<insert cliché about Autumn evenings drawing in here>
No, seriously, time is doing what time does and runs away from us as usual. In this instance, my time in office has reached the halfway point. I am still looking for a deputy or two, this will be an ideal time to join me as you will be up and running in time for handover this time next year.
It has certainly been a lively year looking back. Watching the Principality reach full throttle for events and practices and looking to support that success. This time has definitely been dominated by the Great Insurance Gallop of recent times as we wrestle with the whims of the markets.
I came into this office determined to make the lives of our volunteers easier and safer. With the CIC, we have achieved a lot for the latter, though I can only apologise for not achieving the former as much as we would like.
That said, now that the broad outline of the new insurance regime is to hand, I am planning to return to the updating of the Event Steward guidebook, last published in 2007 by the end of the year. This joins the raft of new and updated materials readily available on the Principality website to help you and your event teams in planning the events at the heart of our community.
Please do get your dates into the calendar, 2024 is not that far off now and I am aware that one or two event planners have not managed to get their preferred dates due to other groups and weddings booking as far in advance as two years. I would prefer to see people booking 2025 dates pretty soon as well. We have members whose work holidays need booking a year in advance, sites book out quickly, and your planning teams will appreciate the extended planning time.
A couple of things to note from the insurance: our volunteers are now covered by the insurance under Employer Liability. This was previously not the case, so marshals, event staff, cooks and volunteers will generally now be covered for mishaps. It will be a while before things are fully settled, for instance, we will be looking very carefully at documentation and risk assessments, including in event kitchens as they have been the source of a few too many disturbing anecdotes over the years.
The second change that I would like our branches to be aware of is that I understand that branch-owned items are now covered for insurance against such things as accidental damage, theft, etc. So, please document and hold a record of branch equipment.
Ysabella-Maria did a sterling job presenting and fielding questions at the ID Parliament for over an hour and without notes – this was a thorough and clearly-mastered brief.
The new regime makes life very complicated for participating in our game if you are not a paid-up member of the SCA UK CIC. Suffice to say, to make things smoother and less of a headache for your branch, fighter practice and event organisers, please join as an official member. I also note London Longsword Academy asks for people to contact them in advance of their lessons, so we are not unique in these changes.
The SCA’s optionality to membership in participation is an exception rather than the norm – my archery club and the local HEMA groups insist on membership after a taster session. We still offer a good value for money (My archery club is £150 a year for instance).
Demos and recruitment
What this does mean though, is that we are going to need a push on bringing in new people. Several branches are having a success of it, for instance, Klakavirki had a huge number of sign ups at their recent display stand at Iceland’s Midgard 2023 convention this summer. However, we are seeing events only just making (or missing) their breakeven targets with sites that have more capacity. This can be addressed in three ways: prices go up, numbers through the door go up, and/or the event ambitions are scaled down.
Well-planned and executed activities are the backbone of what we do. It is what we offer to potential and new members as an experience. We need to expand further, look at our attractiveness form a newcomer’s point of view. So, please, have a look at your websites, have a look at your social media and your physical leaflets and ask yourself – does this answer the questions from a first-time encounter. Better yet, ask one of your newer members, or an unconnected friend for their first impressions.
The 2024 demo season is looming. Done well, these are effective recruitment tools. If you have spotted a potential demo opportunity, please let us know at ID level so we can help support you. The big one for us next year will be Glasgow’s Worldcon in August. We are planning a stall and other activities to promote the SCA at a ready-made audience, and I will be in touch with branches to discuss how to receive potential new contacts as a result.
I am also looking ahead to expanding the ID capabilities in recruiting and retention, so will be looking for volunteers to help out with that.
Well, this has gone on long enough, catch you anon!