SCA-Demos-art - 7/13/02
"SCA Demos - An Overview" by Lady Meliora Leuedai de Ardescote.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
SCA Demos – An Overview
By Lady Meliora Leuedai de Ardescote
Educational demos are probably the most frequent type of demo that the SCA is asked to perform. Each year, schools look for more creative ways to teach their students. Many school districts have a "Middle Ages" segment, usually lasting about a week. During that time, teachers try to focus on the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods in their history, arts, literature, and other topics. They may show the students a Shakespearian movie, plan a "medieval feast" as best they can, and discuss different aspects of culture during the Middle Ages. If the school district is aware of the SCA, or groups like them, teachers may contact them for assistance.
When a teacher contacts the SCA, he or she generally doesnÕt have much information about who we are or what we can do. They may come to us with a couple of ideas (like a fencing duel or a musical performance), but they usually want to know what we can do that would be a good fit with their curriculum.
When IÕve been contacted by teachers in the past, I usually begin by asking what they already have planned. Then I try to fill in the gaps. If theyÕre going to have a Shakespearian movie, I wonÕt suggest that we come out and perform a scene from Hamlet, obviously. Instead, I will suggest that we provide something that they donÕt already have in the works. I usually offer one of two different types of demos:
The first demo is the performance demo. This is where the heavy fighters and fencers go out and put on a show, with someone emceeing the performance to explain what was done in period, how it differs from the movies, etc. The performance demo can also include a dance set, musicians, dress a lady (where the lady starts in a chemise and ends up in full Elizabethan), or a fashion show. Audience participation can be encouraged in singing, dancing, and trying on the armor or costumes if desired. This demo usually lasts about an hour.
The second demo is a "station" demo. This is the demo where you have a number of different "stations" set up in a gymnasium or cafeteria, each displaying a different art that was done in period. Stations could include a "sheep to wool" spinning and weaving station, illumination, armoring, wood carving, or anything else that your group has to offer. This demo requires that each station participant have a good knowledge of what they are showing, as students would walk around to each area and ask questions. The stations may also be hands-on for the students (a caution to those artisans who know their craft can be dangerous – hands-on would not be recommended).
There is also a "one-person" demo that can be done if a complete demo team canÕt be pulled together in time. If there is one person who can attend, he or she can take a craft that they are comfortable with and discuss it with the students. If a SCA group does a lot of demos, they might consider putting together a demo kit that will allow any single person to be able to discuss the Middle Ages. Our groupÕs kit is a 14th Century kit, which contains costuming, illumination, and other examples of 14th Century items.
Once the teacher has chosen what theyÕd prefer, I go back to my group to recruit participants. Depending on the scope of the demo, I usually end up with between 4 and 8 people who will be willing to attend. I then confirm the demo dates and times with the teacher.
When the demo date gets closer, I re-confirm with the teacher, and the demo team, get directions, and nail down any additional details. Students are usually very excited once we introduce ourselves and get going, and teachers usually keep this in mind for the next year!
Recruitment at Local Colleges and Universities:
If your SCA group is close to a college, one of the things you may want to do is recruit up and coming members from there. There are a number of things you will need to keep in mind:
1. Student groups usually have to register with the school in order to post any flyers or get permission to stage demos.
2. Student groups usually have to have an enrolled student as a member of the group, or a certain percentage of the group must be enrolled.
3. Student assemblies during welcome weeks must be registered for ahead of time. The group may be put in with several different types of student organizations. To get the most notice, presentations should be quick and catchy. Students may be going between groups quickly, picking up handouts, so have some ready.
4. Often, fighters are the best draw for this activity.
The Movie Demo:
Movie openings present a great Kingdom-wide recruitment opportunity, as well as an opportunity for some goodwill media attention for the SCA. Organizing a movie demo in your area is simple:
Put out feelers to your local members to pull together a demo team. Find out the best day for them to participate. Opening day is best, or sneak previews are also good. If you can put together a couple of teams, it might be fun to do 2-3 days of opening weekend!
Contact a local theater that gets a lot of traffic to discuss doing a demo for them. Talk to the manager (get his or her name). They will probably be familiar with having groups come out to do demos (like the Star Trek group, Ring of Steel, etc.) for their movie openings. This needs to be done as soon as you can. You should also contact them again for another confirmation a couple of weeks later, and then again a few days in advance. Provide them with some information on the SCA, demos we do, and what weÕd like to do for them (examples attached). My group usually offers heavy and light weapons, dancing, and people in costume for color, but if you have any other ideas, suggest those as well.
When you decide what times you are covering, keep in mind how many flyers your group will be handing out. You could have one for member recruitment, one for demo opportunities, or a combination flyer. You might also want to think about one for media to receive. Your group could have a table set up in the lobby, and/or your color people pass out flyers as people enter or leave the theater or watch your performances. Flyers should be current, with pictures and contact information (examples attached). The bigger the movie, the more flyers you should bring.
Additionally, you could contact local newspapers, radio stations, and tv stations in your area. Give them information about your groupÕs demo that they can mention in community calendar type lists – and with radio stations, see if they are interested in tying into the demo by giving away movie passes or if they have any other promotions planned.
A day or two before the demo, call the theater to make sure youÕre "still on." Confirm the movie times so that you can show up about an hour before "show time." Most movie patrons go a bit early to make sure they get tickets, and youÕll want to be completely set up and ready to go when they get there. Inform your demo participants of when they should arrive and where they should meet.
On the day of the demo, show up a little before the demo participants are supposed to arrive, or designate someone to coordinate. Scout out a good area to change or to stow gear, and a good spot to be "off duty." Confirm with the manager on duty that the employees know what is going on, and anything else promised, such as a free showing at the end of the night, etc. Designate a media liaison if you are expecting any newspapers, radio station or TV personnel to show up. This should be someone who can answer many questions and is good at speaking in public. Set up your demo area, pass out flyers to the gentles who will distribute them, and have fun!
DonÕt forget to clean up the flyers left in the lobby or seats. Remember to thank the manager for the opportunity to do the demo.
Putting Together Your Demo Team:
Putting together a demo team is actually easier than youÕd expect. It all comes down to availability.
When a school or other group contacts the SCA for a demo, the SCA groupÕs demo coordinator needs to first follow up with the requesting party for details:
When – will the demo be
Where – is it to be held
What – are they looking for
Who – else have they contacted (such as the Ring of Steel, etc.)
Once you have this information, you should be able to form an idea in your mind of the type of demo youÕre looking at and who in your group is available.
How will you know who is available? Generally there are a handful of diehard demo participants in any SCA group that show up for most demos. Some are available during the day, some only in the evening. If you know these people personally, you should know which ones fight or fence, which dance, which do needle arts, which do other crafts, which are good public speakers, etc. These are your main recruits for any demo team. Then, put out a request to the rest of your SCA group to try to fill in the gaps. If you need to provide fencing, but you only have one fencer available during the planned demo time, ask your group if there is someone else who could come out for a one-time demo. There may be someone whoÕd like to try, but has previously been unable to help. Once you have a few people interested, get commitments from people and get back to the requesting group to let them know youÕre ready.
I recommend keeping a list of demos that your group has done in the past, as well as participants at every demo. This can be invaluable information when you need to match up a particular skill with a demo request.
In the event that you cannot put together a complete demo team (due to work situations, etc.), it is perfectly fine to have a single person or a small group of 2-3 go in alone. The person or group could bring a couple of different things to discuss and interact with the students.
Additionally, you can also share the workload with a neighboring group, and recruit demo participants from there as well, so long as your group is willing to reciprocate.
To Charge or Not to Charge – the Great Donation Debate:
The SCA does demos as part of itÕs desire to keep a non-profit status. Sometimes we receive donations, sometimes not. Differing opinions on the part of SCA members on this topic run from one extreme to the other. IÕd like to take a minute to address the donation debate.
One of the finer aspects of the SCA is that we are an honorable and chivalrous group. For a lot of us, that carries over into "real life" as well. IÕve heard the opinion expressed that we should not request nor accept donations when offered. This is all well and good if the person with the opinion is the one performing the demo.
In the other extreme, IÕve also run across persons who have shown no interest in doing a demo unless it "paid" well. The group has expenses, and these persons feel it is unreasonable not to be reimbursed.
Realistically, the SCA is a group of people who also have regular jobs, lives, etc., and this is a hobby (albeit an involved one). How can we balance all of these opinions and details to come up with a solution that satisfies everyone?
LetÕs look at the typical school demo. Every year, a school district sets its budget for the following year. Assemblies and special activities are a part of the budget, and can be set anywhere from less than $200 to $2000 or more, depending on the district. Additionally, PTO and PTA groups usually contribute to what is available with monies from their fundraisers. School districts usually plan on spending "something" when they contact us.
With that in mind, we can look at what weÕve been given in the past for a particular type of demo. If Boy Scout banquet demos have paid between $50 and $90 for the past couple of years, then depending on the troop, we can reasonably expect a donation of somewhere in that range. That does not mean that we should ask for $90, or if we are offered $40 that we should turn it down. This just gives us a reasonable range to gauge the worth of the demo.
I recommend using a sliding scale in regard to demo donations. Generally, when the requesting group contacts us, they have an amount in mind. They will ask what we "charge." I tell them that we usually receive a donation between $X and $Y for the demo theyÕre looking for, but if theyÕre uncomfortable with the amounts, we can certainly work it out. I always try to give them the opportunity to offer what they feel comfortable with. If the person requesting the demo has no monies to work with (which is occasionally the case), IÕll try to negotiate the use of their school at a free or discounted rate to hold an event, or some other way of getting a benefit from them (once I received faux stained glass windows and sheet wall decorations from a high school all-night party). If the caller has to discuss this with other members of his or her group, IÕm willing to wait to see what they come back with.
In the event that there is no donation of any kind, I donÕt think itÕs right to pull our support, unless I get a vibe from the requesting group that theyÕre using us. If a group legitimately has no available funding, it makes me more determined to try to hold the demo, as the students may already be missing out on so much, and I make sure to let my SCA group know that I feel this way. But, if IÕm offered an amount of money, and then itÕs withdrawn, or if the requesting group begins to want too much in return, or if something feels "off," I donÕt think it is unreasonable to turn them down.
Understand the school budget process. There are usually monies available.
Give the requesting person the choice of what to donate. It doesnÕt always have to be cash.
DonÕt pull support for under-funded schools. Go the extra mile to support them.
But if the demo starts to feel "wrong," or you start to feel "used," donÕt feel obligated to do the demo.
These suggestions should satisfy most everyoneÕs opinion.
Copyright 2002 Sandy Danielewicz, 27883 Sutherland, Warren MI 48093. <ladymeliora at tir.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.