Come be a Group Organiser this Samhuinn!

This is a shout-out to our community – to all our creators, performers, musicians, problem-solvers and mischief-makers – to help create our next festival as a volunteer group organiser (aka GO)! We want you to share with us your time, ideas, and visions, to help us tell the story of Samhuinn.

If you want to apply, please read through the following information carefully, and then download the Application Form linked at the end of this post. Complete the form and send it to us at volunteers@beltane.org.

The deadline for GO applications is the 12th of August, 11:59 pm

What is Samhuinn?

Samhuinn is when we celebrate and acknowledge the transition of Summer into Winter. Our festival is a modern reimagining of an ancient Celtic celebration of the turning seasons. The goddess, in her Crone (Cailleach) form, will reveal herself and tip the balance into the dark half of the year, enabling Winter to advance while protecting the dying spirit of Summer so that it may be born anew. The story is portrayed a little differently each year, and is built around the ideas that come from our community, so there is lots of room for your interpretation, creativity and fire!

Our venue

If our luck holds, Samhuinn will return this year as a procession through Edinburgh’s Old Town –the exact route will be determined within the next month. We don’t currently expect to have any stages or static performance spaces, so we are looking for performances and props that’re visible from a distance, and stories that can be performed while on the move. This festival may also be an opportunity to focus on audience interactions and improvisation.

Want to organise a performance group?

Drummers, dancers, acrobats, puppeteers, fire spinners, musicians, spirits, torchbearers, hunters, wild beasts, roaming faeries, hags, mythical creatures and all the rest! It’s time for you to make your vision a reality with a group of volunteers who will work together to make this Samhuinn an unforgettable celebration.

Traditionally, most performance groups align themselves to the Summer or Winter Court. There are many different forms that can take, from quiet acceptance, to rowdy conflict. Other groups may themselves transition over the course of the night. However, the openness of our Samhuinn story means that there’s also opportunities to create performances that diverge from the main story.

As the organiser of a performance group, your role will involve organising and training volunteers, developing a story with the rest of the Society, making props and costumes, choreography, music or rhythms, and giving a body and voice to our event. In return, we wil support you as you learn new skills, meet new people, and make a difference to others by helping them on their journey to mark the changing of the seasons.

Want to organise a production group?

Our unique festivals run on the skill and ingenuity of our production groups, without which we would not exist! These include:

  • Stewards, who ensure that our spaces are safe and easily managed. They stand firm when others may fall, and if you fall, they’ll make sure help reaches you. Stewards are also the friendly face of the festival: we’re looking for outgoing people who can help our witnesses understand our story and our ritual, and be a friendly (if strangely painted) face to all attending.
  • Tech. If Stewards are the guardians of our festival’s people, then Tech are the guardians of its physical structure. The wonderful people who help turn ideas into reality by creating our structures, logistics, contraptions, and fires, which showcase our ideas and give life to dreams.
  • Photopoint, the fabulous folk who capture the night in all its splendour, retelling the night’s story in a permanent form through photographs and video.

These groups offer a different experience of the festival, providing an opportunity to participate in creating the event, as well as learning and honing a range of professional skills.

If you’re considering applying to run one of these groups, we encourage you to

include in your GO team someone with relevant experience and/or skills, gained either inside or outwith BFS. Think about how you can run and develop a team of volunteers to work together with the Event Coordinator to create the well-oiled machine that powers the festival!

Want to organise a Digital Group or Project?

We hope to present Samhuinn 2021 in-person and online simultaneously. And while we love the camaraderie and excitement of a physical event, digital projects offer literally infinite creative possibility: you can be anywhere and build anything. Dreaming of something that’s too big to fit in our procession? Or too small? Or in an artistic format that’s just too weird? This is the space for you!

Digital projects have also been a much-needed way for our community to reflect and connect in difficult times. Your main goal could be to create a valuable experience or connection for the people participating with you.

Digital organisers should have (or have access to) the technical skills needed to complete their project. We might be able to connect you with some digital production people in our community, but we can’t finish your project for you!

Key dates:

Deadline for GO applications – 12th August, 11:59 pm
Pre-GO-Application meeting – 3rd August, 6pm, online
GO Meetings – likely to be done remotely, each Tuesday evening, 7-9pm.
Walkthrough – in-person walkthrough with all groups on October 17th (location tbc)
Samhuinn Night -Sunday October 31st!

COVID-19 Adaptations

We’re working hard to establish guidelines on COVID safety for our volunteers and our witnesses.  While we don’t want this aspect to dominate, there will be extra requirements in line with Scottish Government guidelines. It does make things a bit more challenging, but we will work together with GOs to bring the festival to life in the safest and most enjoyable way possible.

We’ll keep guidelines under constant review, and work with GOs to help make your ideas happen wherever possible.

These are the current parameters:

  • Samhuinn 2021 will only go ahead in-person in Level 2 or below.
  • Any in-person practices will need to be well-organised, following the most up-to-date Covid-19 guidance for that activity, and GOs will have to complete a full risk assessment before any in-person practices can commence.
  • Open rehearsals, if being done, will also need to be done Covid-safe – this may involve running multiple sessions, or hosting outdoors.
  • The usual rules on gatherings apply to any casual meet ups (i.e. unorganised, not risk-assessed).
  • “Organised” activities mean having measures such as testing, test & protect signing-in system, rehearsing in a well ventilated space, disinfecting hand & surfaces, masking and physical distancing in crowded or enclosed areas, if indoor then ventilating the space, 1m physical distancing or creating a “field of play bubble” for outdoor activities.
  • Restrictions are subject to changes, so contingency planning and adaptability is essential.
  • If restrictions are tightened, outdoor practices are more likely to still be allowed than indoor practices.
  • In the worst case scenario, we would advise having some plan for presenting your performance digitally.
  • Groups will be fixed teams, which means multiple groups won’t be able to meet up or collaborate (unless discussed and approved with the EC).
  • For the safety of everyone involved we encourage members to take rapid lateral flow tests (which are available for free) before every group practice.
  • All participants will be expected to take a lateral flow test in the 24 hours ahead of walkthroughs and the festival itself, for the safety of everyone involved.
  • If any member tests positive on their Lateral Flow Test, that person should self-isolate immediately, and book a PCR test.
  • Drum group rehearsals will take place in a covid-secure venue organised by BFS – we will work with GOs to facilitate this.
  • If you would like to read into the current guidance more, there is some available here:
    Performing Arts and Venues
    Protection Levels: What you can do (applies to more informal practice sessions)
  • Guidance will be constantly reviewed, updated and communicated.

Open/Closed Groups – for this festival, we are welcoming applications from closed groups (ie: groups with no open auditions for members). During the selection process we will aim for a balance between open and closed groups, as we would like the wider community to have plenty of opportunities to take part.

Group sizes – Due to Covid-19 restrictions continuing to change, we’d advise against applying for a large group (e.g. >12 including helpers), unless you have a specific reason for additional numbers. However, apply for what your ideal size would be, and we will work with you to come up with a plan, or recommend a scale-down if need be. We’re happy to talk through ideas and numbers with applicants ahead of submitting applications, but final decisions will be made based on the advice available to BFS at the time of application selection.

Open Meetings/Open Practices – We’re not currently planning to have a single large Open Meeting. For open groups looking to publicly recruit members, open-meeting-style presentations can take place asynchronously between August 30th – September 5th. We recommend these be done online or outdoors if possible. Please mention in your application how you’d like to run these.

We suggest that open practices take place outdoors, within the rules for numbers set out in this guidance, with a “field of play bubble” created around the area activities are taking place. If indoors, GOs will need to complete a risk assessment ahead of hosting. GOs could run multiple indoor sessions to stay with the allowed numbers, with cleaning breaks in between sessions.

If you’re interested in doing an in-person open practices, we will work with you to help make it happen within the Covid-19 guidelines.

So, ready to apply?

We can’t wait to hear about your ideas! Fill out the application form below, and email it to volunteers@beltane.org by 23:59 on August 12th.

GO application form: docx odt pdf
An example of a completed form (from 2019, but most application questions are the same)

If your project only involves 1-4 people (in total  including techs, helpers, media production, etc), we don’t need you to submit a full application form. You can email coordinator@beltane.org with an outline of your ideas.

What happens after you apply?

After the deadline, the Board and Blues will consider all applications and together they will make a decision. If we receive more than one application to run the same group, we evaluate each individually, then consider the needs of the festival to see if both can be viable. Some applicants may be invited in for a chat to talk about their application to help us reach a decision.

We’ll then notify everyone who applied of our decision – aiming to notify everyone by email, on the same day if possible. Above all, we want the process to be open and transparent, as we value all our volunteers in every capacity, and want everyone to feel supported throughout the process.

Pre-GO-Application Meet

On Tuesday 3rd August, 6pm there’ll be an online version of the informal pub meetings where you can come along, hear what the Board, Blues, Court & EC have planned so far, and ask them questions ahead of submitting your application.

We recommend every group who’s planning to apply comes along to this meeting, as this festival will have several unique opportunities and challenges compared to previous festivals. The meeting’s also a great chance to get a feel for what else might be happening this festival before you submit your application, and get advice/feedback on your ideas. We also recommend this event for anyone who might be interested in GOing, but doesn’t have an idea for a group, or doesn’t have a co-GO. This meeting can be a good space to help find your creative partners.

If you have any questions about any part of the application process, please contact volunteers@beltane.org.

2 thoughts on “Come be a Group Organiser this Samhuinn!

  1. Thank you but I am already fully engaged in flood damage restoration of my home, alongside my day job.

    Like

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