Top tips for community venues organising a cultural event
East Durham Creates and ARC Stockton share top tips on funding, pricing, social media and food health and safety.
East Durham Creates and ARC Stockton worked together to create a package of top tips for community venues who are interested in organising cultural events.
We spoke to community centres, partners, groups and artists about what worries they have (if any) when putting on arts events and activities. The following areas were the most popular things people wanted to learn more about:
- Money and where to find funding
- Pricing events for a community which have become used to free events
- Social media and digital marketing
- Safeguarding and risk assessment with a focus on catering
Here are our top tips on each topic, written by ARC, Stockton
Top Tips for Writing a Funding Application
Whether writing a funding bid for the first time or the 30th time it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are some tips on writing a funding application:
- As the event organiser you will be best placed to write the funding bid as your passion and enthusiasm about the project will shine through. A good place to start is with your budget, a list of what your project is going to involve and what your project is aiming to do or change. It’s also worth writing two or three really clear aims for the project, this will be especially useful when evaluating the project.
- Be clear on what you want to achieve and how the money available will help you do this. It may be worth saying that this event/project will not go ahead without additional funding.
- Make sure you ask at least two other people to read it through as if they know nothing about the event. This is an effective way to see if you have missed the point all together. Don’t be afraid to state the obvious.
- Ask yourself the following questions when writing the proposal, who is going to benefit from the project? How are they going to benefit? And how are you going to get them involved?
- Allow plenty of time. Find out the closing date for the fund and plan to submit ahead of that date, block out some time in your calendar to complete the application.
- Always read the guidance, funders are not trying to trip you up and you could waste a lot of time writing a bid when you may not even be eligible. The guidance will also let you know what they are looking for so you can highlight the areas that match their criteria.
- Don’t be afraid to seek advice from the funder. You can always ring or email if you are worried about your eligibility. Don’t worry about asking a difficult or unusual question they will almost certainly have heard it before.
- Make sure your budget balances. If you’re asking for 10k make sure your budget says you will spend 10k.
Top Tips for Pricing
Deciding on a price to charge for tickets for performances and activities can be challenging, balancing the need to generate income with the aim of attracting audiences. Here are some tips on pricing:
- Consider whether your audiences are basing their decision on the price, or on other factors, such as quality, accessibility (in terms of your location and therefore transport required), or attractiveness of the event.
- Price is less about cost and more about value, so rather than thinking about what audiences can afford to pay, think about whether they think the price will offer good value.
- Pricing tickets too low will diminish the value of your offer, as it implies to audiences that your events are cheap and therefore of low quality.
- Compare your prices to other similar experiences that your audiences might be paying for, e.g. what do parents pay to go swimming or to an activity centre with their children. How does the price of that compare to the price of bringing them to see a performance at your venue?
- Don’t be afraid to use special offers – discounted tickets can help to make prices affordable, make people feel special, and make feel people like they have secured a bargain.
- Including extras in the price can also be attractive for audiences so consider costing in a free drink, sweets, raffle ticket etc.
- Don’t be afraid to be bold and generous – tactics such as offering refunds if people don’t like the show can help encourage people to take a risk on buying a ticket. Evidence suggests very few people ever actually ask for a refund and, even if they do, they are more likely to come back another time if they don’t feel they have wasted their money on their first visit.
- Consider using Pay What You Decide pricing, a model successfully piloted at ARC Stockton and now being used around the world.
- Most importantly, talk to your audiences! Ask them after the event whether they thought it was good value for money, and whether they would be prepared to pay more for something similar in the future.
Download the full guide for tips on social media and pricing:
Top tips for community venues organising a cultural event (PDF)
Top tips for community venues organising a cultural event (Word)