Friday, 24 September 2021

Development... continued

 14.   Website

Early development of a festival website is important. This is the most inexpensive way of getting your festival’s message out. Most communities have website designers who are willing to donate their time to help you set up your site. Most website designers are not copywriters, so you will have to develop and write your own text. If you do have a site, it is extremely important to keep it up to date. Nothing turns off potential attendees than an out-of-date website. The hosting of your website is another issue. Again, many communities have hosting companies will to donate their hosting services. If this is not available to your festival, there are several hosting plans available, some very inexpensive, but limited in scope. It’s worthwhile to do a little research in the beginning to determine your best hosting route. Work closely with your designer, he/she should be able to point you in the right direction. One word of caution, before you finalize your event name, check to see if that name is an available domain name.  For example, if you choose the name “Apple Festival”, you may find that that name is not available. However, if you put your town’s name in front of “Apple Festival”, it’s likely the name will be available. To search domain names, log onto, type in the name you want to register and it will tell whether or not it’s available. There are many dot variations that you can use, but the most appropriate for a Canadian festival would However, it is your committees choose on the final domain name. It’s best to have your hosting company register you domain name.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Development... continued


12.   Manpower Needs

Once you have your chairs in place, you to get them to determine their individual manpower needs. Consideration should be given to both the planning and implementations stages. Over estimating is not a bad thing. Time and circumstances come into play and volunteers may drop out of the committee for any number of reasons. Being aware of this and taking steps to minimize the effect of drop outs will make the chair’s life a lot easier. Strategic manpower planning will also help you evaluate the viability of the festival, as planned. It may show you that you need to modify your festival ideas to accommodate manpower realities.

13.   Event Naming

I believe that the naming of your festival is an important part of the development process. Your name will both attract attendees and give them an idea of what the festival is all about. The name indicates your theme. Make sure when developing your festival activities that they reflect both the festival’s name and theme. If you don’t, you will have a lot of very unhappy attendees.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Development... continued

9.   Event Insurance

Event insurance is a must. You cannot hold your festival without it. There are many types of coverages and many ways to obtain insurance. Your best route is to speak with a qualified Insurance Broker in your area. If they can’t obtain coverage for you then they should be able to point you in the right direction. If they can’t help you, log onto the Festival & Events Ontario (FEO) website ( ). They have association members who specialize in event insurance.

10.   Key Festival Management

Before planning can take place, key festival management has to be put in place. These positions include: Festival Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and all key section chairs. Detailed job descriptions should be prepared for each position so that everyone knows what is expected of them and if they have to leave that position, the new person immediately knows his/her responsibilities.

11.   Committee Structure

How you structure your committee and the people you choose to assist you in the development of the festival will affect every aspect of the festival from start to finish. Just because someone volunteer’s to help doesn’t mean he/she is qualified to manage a portion of the festival. To have a successful festival you need knowledgeable, skill people who are dedicated to the completion and prosperity of the event. This means that you must pick and choose key people who can and will get the job done, no matter what obstacles come in their way. You wouldn’t run a company with unqualified people, so why run a festival that way? And, if someone doesn’t work out, replace them immediately. The ongoing cooperation of everyone involved is imperative for the ultimate success of the festival.

(To be continued)

Friday, 3 September 2021

Development... continued

 6.   Preliminary Planning 

Now that you have decided the most important aspect of your festival, it’s time to put it all in writing. Remember the clearer your vision of the festival, the easier it will be to plan and to pass on your vision to others. The preliminary plan is a “concept plan”. This means that it will likely change many times before the “final plan” is in place and accepted. The preliminary plan should give as much known detail as possible.

7.   Financial Control

It is important to get your financial act together rights from the beginning. Make sure you have all the financial elements ready to be put in place as soon as your festival has been approved. Without the proper financial controls, your festival could be dead in the water before it gets off the ground. 

8.   Preliminary Budget

The preliminary budget is one of the most important elements of the development stage, because, if done honestly and properly, it will give you a clear idea of the viability of the festival. If the beginning numbers don’t make sense, the final figures will be a lot worse. Take the time to investigate the full costs of the festival and then adjust the festival development to bring the budget in line with reality.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Development... continued


4.   Dates and Timing

The next big decision are the dates and timing of your festival. Obviously the theme and events will dictate the seasonal timing, while the availability of the chosen venue will likely dictate dates. The theme could also come into play. For example, if you are having a Canada Day festival, it has to be held to incorporate July 1st. Conversely, a particular event could determine the dates. If you were booking a popular music act, they may only be available on specific dates. A lot of research may be required to come up with the right dates. 

5.   Location

Depending on the size of your event, location may be your biggest asset or your biggest concern. It’s important that you establish were the event is to be held as soon as possible. On larger events, the logistic of preparing site plans and permissions can take a long time, especially if government is involved. Most municipalities have very specific requirements when it comes to using their property for an event. Sitting down with municipal officials right from the start will eliminate many problems in the future. Even dealing with private property owners can be tricky. You will have to make sure that everything, and I mean everything that has been agreed upon is in writing and is signed by both parties. This agreement should take place early in the development process so that if a change of venue needs to take place you will have the time to do so. Even with all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, unforeseen conflicts will likely arise. Compromise may become both parties watchword.

(To be continued) 

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Developing a Festival or Event

"The hard work and devotion of those festival organizing pioneers is awe inspiring. Without them festivals would never have become a reality. This “Developing a Festival” handbook is dedicated to all these wonderful and talented people!"

Gary "Festival Nomad" McWilliams


As William Shakespeare’s Hamlet asked so many years ago “To be or not to be, that is the question.

When you start thinking about developing an event, after all the questions have been asked and answered, “to be or not to be…” really is the final question.

1.   Event Theme

By creating a festival theme, you also create direction. A theme allows you to focus on the final vision of your festival. Being able to visualize the final look of the festival makes planning it much easier. It’s like planning a trip, if you know your final destination, getting there is just a matter of route.

2.   Scope

Deciding on the scope (size) of your festival is one of the first steps that need to be taken. This will determine timing, location, manpower, activities and events, length of time needed for planning and committee structure.

3.   Events and Activities

Along with scope, activities and events must be considered right from the start. Some events or activities may take years to plan or procure. Others may not be practical due to costs or timing. Careful consideration in this area will help you enhance the festival theme you have chosen. Make sure that these do not conflict with each other (i.e.: timing, location, demographics, etc.).

(Development ~ to be continued)

Development... continued

  14.    Website Early development of a festival website is important. This is the most inexpensive way of getting your festival’s message...