Quick summary of changes to selection of key volunteers: an update for BFS members

As many of you know, across the past six months we’ve been having some big conversations and doing some big thinking about how selection and support for some key groups of volunteers (Board, Blues and Court) can be improved.

After two blethers, further discussions online and in person, and circulating a list of proposed ideas to members for comment earlier this year, the BFS board has agreed the following changes to selection and operations of board, blues and festival court volunteers. Many of the changes have already begun to be implemented, and others you’ll hear more about soon – but we wanted to send this summary to everyone ahead of the end of this current board term.

Thank you to everyone who shared their views as part of the discussions earlier this year and made these agreements possible.

Agreed changes to BFS board selection and operations:

  • 2019-20 board to scope and implement what will be required to introduce external trustees, and aim to introduce one or two in the following term if possible.
  • Ensure standing for the board is promoted heavily – including setting out relevant skills/duties, so clear what’s needed, across website, Facebook and email.
  • Aim to increase attendance at AGM in future. Scope combining AGM 2020 with something for the community before/after, and/or changing future dates for AGM.
  • In 2019, explore what’s required to increase standard board term length to two – five years, and staggered, with a view to introducing longer terms from 2020.
  • Trial making board candidates available for one-to-one discussion/Q&A in advance of AGM.
  • A paid worker role to be introduced to take on operational role/reduce operational workload for board. This contractor is now in place, with an initial pilot contract June 2019 – November 2019. At the end of that contract, the role will be evaluated and decision made on future potential for the post.
  • A BFS fundraising and income generation strategy has been developed, and implementation of it to continue across coming year. Aim is to increase BFS resources, so increased paid team becomes more possible, to share workload.
  • Working groups will be set up and promoted for members to join across 2019-20, to spread workload and allow more opportunities to get involved: welfare/safeguarding group, festival operations, etc.

Agreed changes to BFS Blues selection and operations:

  • From summer 2019 suggested 2 year i.e. (4 festival) ‘terms’ for Blue are being introduced. This will mean when a Blue is selected, it is expected that they will be Blue for two years, and do not need to be ‘reapproved’ during that time, even if they do not perform as Blue for a festival in that period (though they would still be subject to feedback and disciplinary processes, so any issues that may arise would be addressed). At the end of that two year period they would be able to be proposed again as a Blue, but would have to go through the approval process again. If a Blue wanted to stand down before the end of their two year term, that would be fine – there’s no formal or binding minimum period. If practicable Blue terms would be staggered, meaning that not all two year terms would end at the same time – to reduce the risk of a whole set of Blues standing down at once.
  • A description of factors taken into consideration when new Blues are selected has been created by existing Blues. This will be published along with clear description of process used to select new Blues on website when nominations are called for potential Blues from the community.
  • Community members will continue to be invited to nominate any other community members they think should be considered as Blues.
  • Board involvement in Blue selection has changed to reviewing the list of potential candidates and removing any who are not eligible based on specific criteria (relevant disciplinary action/significant risk to BFS in reputational or legal terms/ reports of unsafe or inappropriate behaviour) only. Option for board to provide views/comments regarding remaining candidates and their suitability to the Blues deciding on those they wish to appoint, but in an advisory capacity.
  • Existing Blues decide from remaining candidates on the list following board phase, on basis of list of key factors they have developed and will circulate with call for nominations.
  • Blues who are approved may be Blue even if they choose not to perform in the festival as Blues; meaning that they may carry out the other tasks Blues may take on, even if they aren’t painted Blue on the night. This would allow some Blues to act as ‘supporting Blues’, helping to share the workload of Blue, even if they aren’t able to perform or take on all of the festival responsibilities. This would provide that support and still allows the community to still be clear who is and who is not Blue, and how they were selected.
  • Blues would not be permitted to GO, be court or other festival role during their term as Blue, even if they were not performing on the night as Blue.
  • The processes for stepping down as Blue, which roles can be held at the same time, and how transitioning into or from other festival roles should work has been clarified and will be circulated, as set out here.
  • Feedback will be given to individual Blues post-festival in same way as GOs (ie formal feedback sheet based on input from volunteers survey, and feedback from event coordinator, board etc), and written record referred to at future decision points rather than recollections – including mechanism to capture input from individual being referenced.

Changes to court selection:

  • Criteria for court selection to continue to be set out in selection document, ahead of next festival.
  • Board involvement in court selection to change to: reviewing list of potential candidates to remove any who are not eligible (ie safeguarding issues/duty of care/upheld complaints/unsafe according to set criteria etc – but specifically not whether candidate is suitable for the role in other ways). Option for board to provide views/comments on remaining candidates and their suitability in relation to other areas to the Blues, in an advisory capacity
  • Blues decide from remaining candidates, on basis of criteria/key factors to consider. Basic written record to be kept of selection by a board member who attends the court selection meeting (with no decision-making power, advisory only)
  • Feedback offered to all unsuccessful candidates – in form of single, focused engagement (rather than ongoing dialogue – for capacity reasons).
  • Samhuinn court to be selected in time for pre-GO meeting where possible (given story emphasis can shift depending on court for samhuinn); Beltane May Queen and Green Man to be selected in time for final GO selection at latest where possible.
  • Feedback given to court members post-festival in same way as GOs (ie formal feedback sheet based on input from volunteers survey, and feedback from event coordinator, blues and board).

Thanks again to everyone who has been involved in the discussions!