Scratch Nights are fun and informal and often seem easy to do, but they are really easy to get wrong. It’s really important to support artists as they present unfinished work in very vulnerable spaces.
Hopefully this guide will help.
Planning ( at least 3 months before the event)
- How long is your event? we suggest 2-3 hours with performances lasting 20-30 minutes.
- Is there a theme?
- Is there any particular work you want to be represented?
- devising, live art work usually best, as there less opportunities for this kind of work to be scratched
- Will you have a Q & A, how will you present feedback?
- Think about how you are going to evaluate this event? Do you need to evaluate it? Will you have feedback forms?
- Think about flyers, do you have someone in place to make these? Do you need to hire someone?
The Call Out (2 months before the event)
- Describe what you’re looking for
- Explain your technical specifications/ limitations – it’s usually best to highlight that there won’t be much technical specifications
- Ask questions that will help inform your decision making – why does the artist want this opportunity/ tell us about the show/ what kind of work is it/ how long is it/ where is the artist based/ what are their technical requirements
- Explain whether it will be paid/unpaid
- Give a bit of a description with context about the event – are there any priorities that you’re looking to meet, such as BAME artist or artists from a certain region
- Create a marketing form to use later – this will include questions asking for copy/ artist bios/ images/ taglines/ websites
- Around this time you should look at getting flyers made to help with the marketing, come up with a couple of designs and choose the best one – if you’re struggling a photo of someones live performance with text over the top can look great (but make sure you ask permission of whose photo/performance it is)
- It’s also useful here, if you are going to evaluate the event, how – more importantly its understanding what information you need to know – feedback for artists vs statistical information to look good
- Get flyers made and printed
Getting it out there
- there are a number of websites where you can submit job opportunities
- emailing big organisations with known networks to help circulate
Decision time (one month before the event)
- Try and make the decision as close to after the deadline as possible
- usually within the week
- categorise them into yes/no’s and maybes
- Think about work programming a range of work – established artists that you know will be good, and emerging that will benefit from the opportunity
- Try not to have anything to similar on the same night – unless your night has a theme, in which case does the applications take the theme into consideration?
- One artists are picked, email them to ask for confirmation by a certain date, that they are still available and ask for their technical details
- Send the marketing form to the confirmed artists (can be done with the confirmation email) and specify a deadline to get this returned by. If you are paying the artists and that requires paperwork, it’s best to sort this here
- send out emails to those who were note successful, if you’re able to give feedback, say that you can if they wish
- At this point you should aim to have your flyers printed by now, and start distributing them to local organisations bars/cafes
Marketing (4 weeks before the event)
- schedule tweets and posts that incorporate the artists marketing/ images. Usually 1 post every other day
- increase this to everyday in the final week run up – tweetdeck /hootsuite
- make a Facebook event and post in with info about each artist following the schedule that you may have made for twitter
- Consider direct marketing – email organisations/ collectives that either might be interested, or can disperse information on your behalf to a network such as IGC
- if you haven’t already get flyers distributed to local organisations cafes/ bars
- you should also aim to give all the tech info to your technician, giving plenty of time so they are aware of what is needed, as well as trouble shooting any problems that may arise
Final lead up (a week before the event)
- send artists a quick confirmation email, and a schedule for the day of the event. You should give at least an hour for each artist to tech their show, and if it’s possible to offer rehearsal space as well
- be aware of giving your technician breaks!
- Breaks between each performance is usually a good idea – ten minutes seems to be the right amount of time,
- ensure that your technician knows about everything that’s going on
- Last minute marketing – facebook posts urging people to come/ share the event
- ensure you and your team know the schedule and that it’s easily accessible. Be aware of what time you should arrive
- you may want to arrive at the start of the day so you can greet artists as they arrive
- During the event you may want to have an introduction from yourself or a member of your team, to explain that the event is a platform for showcasing new ideas, generally your job here is to keep an eye on time, and be around if anything is going wrong , you may find that if everyone knows what they are doing then you have nothing to do – this is a good sign. You may want to facilitate the q and a, ensure that each artists has an equal amount of time to talk about their work, and make sure it stays on track
- If you were collecting feedback for the artists, ensure that they receive it on the night or after through e-mail
- Ensure you email the artists to say thank you for their performances, and if they are being paid outline details of what that process is/ and a time frame of when they should expect to be paid.
- If you are collecting data for your event, gather it together in a excel spread sheet so you can easily make graphs to help prove anything you need.
- Arrange a debriefing with your team (usually a week after) so you can discuss what went well, and what didn’t in terms of the lead up and the event itself. It’s important here to be honest and objective so you can learn from your experiences
And thats it!
Scratch Nights in the Region
- PILOT nights
- Scratch that Itch at Derby Theatre
- Newvolutions at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre
- Amp Night at Nottingham Playhouse