24 March 2013
16 January 2013
13 January 2013
|MFS EOMDOT, Aranda, 12 January 2013|
24 September 2012
22 July 2012
I (Lance) was somewhat surprised to see recently that my part in the organisation of the Wonderful Week of Bush Dancing on Norfolk Island was reduced to a "related by marriage" role, with the rather faint praise that Barbara organised transport and accommodation.
Barbara and I are a team, have been for fifty years. I wouldn't have tackled the Norfolk Island trip without Barbara, but neither would Barbara have tackled it without my full support and equal driving force and plain hard work.
We are team players, and fully acknowledge that Norfolk Island would not have happened without lots of folk putting in the hard yards, particularly Lyn McGregor who came up with the idea and ran with it. Lyn asked for our help and we helped Lyn make her idea a reality. It was a moment of great sadness for us when illness in the family prevented Lyn from actually joining us on Norfolk Island.
For the record, here is a more detailed but still a tiny bit of the history of who did what in the organisation of Norfolk Island (NI). It is good to have accurate knowledge passed on, and this may also be a good resource for anyone planning a similar venture in the future.
Lyn discussed her ideas about NI with us at a bush dance. The initial concept was that we would teach bush dancing to the NI Ballroom Dancers, and they would teach us about Ballroom Dancing.
Dale from the NI Ballroom Dancers was planning to be in Canberra briefly, so we organised a meeting at our place on 1 February 2007, to take advantage of that visit. We had in mind that the NI trip would be run by The Bush Dancers display group (TBDdg) and the NI Ballroom Dancers, with Lyn as Trip Co-ordinator.
From the ten-page record of that meeting:
Present: Barbara and Lance, Dale Hodgen, Bob Hodgson, Lyn McGregor
- Length of holiday package - one week
- Logistics of flights in and out
- Everything about NI
- Detailed information about NI package prepared by the Ballroom Dancers and Debbie from The Travel Centre NI
- Accommodation options
- Tours, discounts and deals
- Flyers and other publicity
- Bush Dance displays for schoolchildren and public
- Subsidies, grants, cross-funding
- Contact with politicians federal and local
- invitation list - musicians and dancer groups
- Trip Logo
- Day by Day schedule outline
- Raffles and prizes
- Meeting places, drinks, meals
- Stationery, welcome packages, badges, tea coffee & buiscuits
Lyn as trip coordinator wrote up the meeting notes and followed up on a myriad of details. Lyn also drafted the initial flyers and certificates, and Lyn's daughter Clair produced the trip logo. Lyn kept up e-mail contact with the Ballroom Dancers and the Travel Centre on NI.
Barbara and I took overall responsibility for publicity. As Primary Contacts for TBDdg, we also maintained the top-level oversight of the project, thinking through proposals and assisting wherever needed.
The NI ballroom dancers were our "folk on the ground". They liaised with the travel agent, local government and schools, booked the venue, the major components including the fish fry, and organised local supplies.
On 05 February 2007 Barbara and I wrote to MFS Committee asking them to note that
- TBDdg committee were considering organising a cultural exchange trip to NI. The purpose was to provide a travel opportunity for MFS members and friends, and an opportunity for NI residents to learn and appreciate Australian traditional music and dance.
- The trip would be open to all MFS members and friends, and reciprocal interstate musicians and dancers. It was to be run by TBDdg committee in liaison with contacts in NI, using a package arranged with a travel agent.
- The trip co-ordinator was to be Lyn McG reporting to TBDdg Committee.
No decisions had yet been made, but the broad intention was to minimise any risk of loss by
- Band payments based on a percentage of net door takings and other fund-raising, rather than committing to fixed expenditure.
- Direct dealings between each participant and the travel agent for tickets etc
- All participants must take out their own travel insurance
- Assurance of "Break-Even" numbers before proceeding
Indications were that the "owner" of the workshops and dances in NI would be our NI contacts.
An indicative timing was a full week of workshops, dances, sightseeing and fun, culminating in a colonial ball, on NI.
Lyn set up a web site dedicated to the trip, and Barbara and I placed material on the TBDdg site and printed and electronically distributed publicity materials. Lyn, Barbara and I used our extensive email lists to contact musicians and dancers throughout the land. I was amazed at the "reach" provided by the internet and the ease with which one could bring together musicians and dancers from across this wide land for a fantastic holiday together. The world is indeed now 80 milliseconds wide and the NI trip would never have happened without the internet.
Our musician co-ordinator Bob Hodgson was unfortunately unable to make the trip, and so we put out the call for a music co-ordinator. David Johnson from Penrose responded magnificently with great ideas and the obvious ability to create and deliver an excellent program.
I co-ordinated the production of the spreadsheets with pricing schedules, budget estimates and so forth.
On 17 November 2007, Barbara and I responded to a request for clarification of a number of details from the MFS Committee:
- The main committee wished to ensure that all MFS activities are covered by MFS insurance, and of course the NI Trip Committee shared this view.
- The NI Trip Committee was setting overall policy. Taking into account this overall policy, travel was generally to be arranged by the travel agent and everyone who travelled to NI needed to have their own travel insurance. The dances and workshops were to be covered by NI Ballroom Dancers (NIBD) public liability insurance as NIBD were booking the venue. The musicians and callers were working directly with the music co-ordinator, as individuals not as a resource provided by the Monaro Folk Society.
The working arrangements were:
- All policy decisions were the responsibility of the NI Trip Committee (NITC) consisting of NIBD, TBDdg, the trip co-ordinator Lyn McG, and the music co-ordinator David J.
- The travel agent (Debbie from NI Travel) was to handle travel, accommodation, travel insurance, and dancing and catering packages, where required by participants. Each participant was to deal directly with the travel agent. The travel agent was to pay the dancing and catering package receipts to the NIBD as they were received, to allow NIBD to make up-front payments for venues etc.
- The NIBD was to bank all door receipts and package monies from the travel agent. After the festival was over, and final accounts have been paid and the books reconciled, NIBD was to pay the music co-ordinator David J in accordance with an agreed formula. Participants were to take care of the door and other volunteer activities, but any money taken was to be passed to NIBD for banking.
- NIBD was to pay for hall hire, sound equipment, catering, etc. from the takings. This expenditure was to be at NIBD discretion, with an accounting to NITC that was to be advised by NITC to MFS Committee.
- The workshops and dances in Norfolk Island were to be covered by NIBD public liability insurance. NIBD had already booked the venue and sound equipment and operator, and were to book catering.
- TBDdg were planning a fund-raising garage sale. This would take the form of a direct donation to the music co-ordinator to be used at his discretion to assist musicians and callers to participate in the trip.
Around the early part of 2008, Jannise from The Travel Centre NI had taken over from Debbie, and advised the names of all bookings to Barbara and me and we built up an email list so we could keep in contact with all actual participants as well as those on our potential participants list.
Lyn was fully engaged in writing emails, producing materials, and thinking through issues right up until our departure date. Lyn organised gifts and presentation materials.
Barbara and I organised the garage sale at our house on election day, as we were over the road from a voting booth. We also organised raffles to provide "seed" money to the musician co-ordinator.
Due to high costs on Norfolk Island, Barbara and I purchased supplies and arranged to spread them around many helpful participants' baggage. The musicians and dancers went "beyond the call of duty" in too many ways to list, but it made the trip totally enjoyable for all concerned.
Barbara and I travelled to Norfolk Island a few days before the start of the festival, to undertake preparatory work including putting up dodgers in shop windows and talking on Radio Norfolk.
In the time between organising the trip and the trip itself, ill-health had caused the decline of the NI Ballroom Dancers group. We found them to be in recess and as a result they had little involvement in running the festival. In spite of their much reduced numbers and ill-health they undertook the banking and helped in many other ways.
Things that worked well were the whole thing, but particularly when Barbara and I organised with the RSL club for our musicians to run a "War-Time Dances" session on Anzac Day. The musicians and dancers responded magnificently. Having a notice board and place for tourist dodgers etc worked well, with folk having the ability to leave messages for each other, and for us to post notices about program changes etc, all in a central location.
It was indeed a wonderful week, covered in the links below. Barbara and I stayed on for a few days after the festival, for clean-up and a final meeting with the NI Ballroom Dancers. At this meeting we took delivery of cheques for various purposes:
- Reimbursement of Barbara and my expenses for pre-purchase of supplies etc, then
- 1% of net proceeds to be donated to MFS and
- 97% to be paid to the music co-ordinator for distribution to the musicians and callers
2% of the net proceeds of monies handled by NIBD were retained by NIBD
Not The Half Of It
I haven't been able to cover David's assembly of musicians and callers from Australia all over, the workshops, dances and ball, the dance writing competition, and the booklets that David produced, the informal barbecues and group sightseeing, and all the volunteers who saw something that needed doing and did it.
A reprint from 'Monaro Musings' the magazine of the Monaro Folk Society June 2008:
16 June 2012
We arrived a few minutes after the start of the Sunday Night Bush Ball and found the first dance in full swing. Peter Ellis from Bendigo calling Garibaldi's March-Waltz.
Paul Carr from Canberra calling the Antrim Square Set:
Bush dancing is unique in my experience with the dances drawn from so many traditions, and the variety in the set formations, music, stepping and dance styles. It is accessible because many of these dances are done in a faster and simpler way than the originals, and dances are called. The sets offer a particularly social way of mixing, along with the couples dances that are always enjoyable.
Bundanoon reminded me once again how blessed we are to have so many wonderful musicians in what I loosely call the bush dancing milieu. They played for literally dozens of workshops and dances over the weekend, and their versatility and talent had to be seen to be believed. And there was no stopping them. The music during the breaks and late into the night added so much to the ambience. I can't imagine what it would be like without that live musical dimension.
We will keep on dancing as long as we can, but we are retiring from helping to run dancing, and this was our last year on the Bundanoon committee. David Johnson of Penrose is the artistic director and driving force behind Bundanoon, and a pleasure to work with. We provided our thoughts as members of the committee chaired by David, and the committee divided up the responsibilities amongst willing volunteers. We took care of refreshments and liaised with the caterers, and a few other odd jobs allocated by the committee. If you would like to help, maybe with these jobs or maybe other responsibilities entirely, why not contact David by email dave at bushtraditions dot org (www.bushtraditions.org)?
10 December 2011
Recent events have reminded me of the importance of openness and transparency, and communication and consultation with stakeholders - those who decision-makers wish to implement their decisions.
The principles of natural justice embodied in the incorporations act and the common law, and indeed common sense, demand that in a democratic society like ours, those affected by a decision be consulted before a policy decision is made by decision-makers.
The reasons for adequate consultation are well-known and include:
- testing whether a proposed policy reflects key stakeholder concerns and issues.
- identifying the competing interests of different people or groups.
- thinking through of all consequences and impacts.
- building consensus and "buy-in". No one likes surprises.
- supporting transparency in the policy making process.
- good policy and compliance.
It is simply a matter of seeking consultation comments on proposals, new committee terms of reference, etc, and taking comments into account when making our decisions, along the lines of the process at: http://mfs.org.au/wiki/index.php/MFS_Organisers_Group
Sometimes urgent decisions have to be taken without consultation, but lack of prior consultation can also lead to "more haste less speed" when it comes to attempted implementation, particularly in a voluntary association of autonomous activities like ours.
Personally, if I am not consulted before a decision is taken that affects me, I have no confidence that it will be a well-considered decision, and no interest in its implementation. Others can make their own decisions and if they want to they can do it, but for me I am taking a stand - no consultation, no implementation. The days of obeying without question are long gone around here.
Conversely, I try for open and transparent processes. The End of Month Dance Organising Team agendas and minutes are published on the members' web site. If I am ever involved in a decision that affects you, and you feel you weren't adequately consulted before the decision was made, please let me know and I will do my best to take the process back a step or two and try again.