By Duchess Marieke
The East Kingdom Seneschal defines an event as: a medieval recreational activity sponsored by a branch of the SCA intended for the attendance and enjoyment of more than that branch’s populace, advertised to at least the population of the branch, and may require fees to attend.
An autocrat (sometimes called an Event Steward) is the person who plans, organizes and runs an event, usually with lots of help from others. The autocrat must be a paid member of the SCA. It is the responsibility of the seneschal to check on this. The autocrat serves as a local officer during the planning and execution of the event. (If you’re a non-member, you can still play a large role in the running of an event, by being a deputy to the autocrat.)
The autocrat of an event has full responsibility for that event, but is ultimately responsible to the sponsoring branch. Before the budget is finalized, the shire’s Financial Committee must review the budget. Before event details are publicized, the seneschal must give approval. (See the MONEY MATTERS section below for more details.)
The seneschal can’t serve as autocrat. However, the seneschal or an appointed deputy should attend the event.
Events are normally held within our shire’s territory. Shire events held outside our lands require a special consent procedure (which is described in the East Kingdom Seneschal’s Policies)
Local events should not be scheduled against Kingdom events when the Kingdom event is held nearby (it’s very tacky). Also avoid scheduling an event against any event within two hours. It is courteous to share your selected event date with neighboring seneschals (even before you have the final details worked out), in order to aid their own planning, and to avoid conflicts.
The autocrat will handle publicity for the event. It may be published locally – that means, to our shire, and possibly to neighboring shires like Coldwood, Panther Vale, and others. Facebook and email lists are fine, but the most important place for it to be is on our shire website. It’s also possible to put a formal Event Announcement in the Kingdom Newsletter or on the Kingdom Calendar web page. The submission form is here: http://www.eastkingdom.org/NewEvent.php
Here’s a checklist of what to include in a full event announcement: Name of event. Group sponsoring the event. Date, opening time, closing time. Name of site, and site address. Activities. Information about food (feast, dayboard) Site rules, if any (pets, open flames, alcohol). Name of autocrat, and autocrat contact info. If there’s food, the name of the Head Cook, and contact info. Fee structure (including day fee/camping fee, adult/child, feast/dayboard/no feast), and the statement “there will be a $5 discount for members.” Information about pre-registration (if needed) and where to send that. If Canadians are invited, include information about how Canadian $ will be handled (pay at the Gate in US$, for example.) The statement, “make out checks to “SCA Inc., Mountain Freehold.” When you have all of this information, AND approval from the Seneschal and the Financial Committee, then you are ready to publish the event announcement.
Events require waivers. The Exchequer will provide blank waivers at the Gate, to be filled in and signed as guests arrive. There are different types of waivers. The blue membership card removes the need to sign the general waiver, but if an equestrian waiver is needed for the event, everybody must sign it. Also, waivers need to be signed by parents/guardians of minors (if the minors don’t have a signed blue card of their own). The full EK Waiver Policy is here: http://seneschal.eastkingdom.org/docs/waiverpolicy.php
If a site requires “proof of insurance”, the seneschal can provide that. Hopefully that’s sufficient. However, if the site requires that the SCA be added as an “additional insured” on the SCA policy, it costs the shire $50 and the special certificate must be ordered 6 weeks in advance of when the *site* needs to see it (which might be earlier than the actual event date) so be sure to ask about that, and watch the timing. Instructions for that are here: http://www.sca.org/docs/pdf/insurancecert.pdf Information about what the SCA insurance covers and doesn’t cover is on p. 48-49 of the Society Seneschal’s Handbook, here: http://socsen.sca.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Seneschals-Handbook-041214.pdf
MINORS AT EVENTS
At an event, anybody under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or by a responsible adult who is in possession of a waiver for the child signed by a parent, *and* a notarized medical treatment waiver. Both are available here: http://sca.org/docs/waivers.html
As autocrat, you may need to tactfully reunite parents with their wandering children. Parents are encouraged to participate in activities along with their children, and are at all times responsible for their welfare and entertainment.
Some events may have formal, organized “SCA Youth Activities.” For these, the parents may drop off their children and then go elsewhere. These official Youth Activities must be overseen and coordinated by a warranted (and background-checked) Youth Officer. Youth Activities must always have two unrelated adults present (not necessarily background-checked) and in line of sight with the minors. The official rules for Youth Activities are found in the Society Seneschal’s Handbook, http://socsen.sca.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Seneschals-Handbook-041214.pdf, pages 22-23.
$5 MEMBER DISCOUNT (formerly, “NMS” or Non-Member Surcharge)
In certain cases, the SCA requires that we charge non-members at events $5 more than members. The money is kept separate and sent to SCA Corporate Headquarters – it does not add to our event income or profit. It complicates our fee structures and budgeting, so if you are confused, consult with the Exchequer. This $5 member discount applies whenever a “site fee” is charged. For minors, if there’s a discounted admission fee, they do not need to pay the extra $5. SCA members who want to take advantage of the $5 membership discount must provide proof of membership (such as a membership card) at the Gate. If the event is funded “by donation” then this section does not apply.
Autocrats need to know that there are some odd rules about what we can and can’t spend money on. For example, we can’t use shire funds to furnish alcohol as part of the feast or event (but it’s fine for individual guests to bring and share alcohol, if the site permits this.) Most expenses related to the event (food, supplies) should be built into the event’s budget. Consult with the Exchequer if you’re not sure about what’s a legitimate expense.
The event budget should be designed to break even, with a reasonable cushion for uncertainty. We are allowed to make a profit, if the profits go back into our shire treasury. If the event loses money, the shire treasury will cover the loss (it’s not the autocrat’s financial responsibility.) The Exchequer is happy to help you design a budget and fee structure if you need assistance.
AT THE EVENT
The seneschal and autocrat are jointly responsible for making sure that site rules, SCA rules and mundane laws are being followed (waivers are signed, marshals are present for activities in their dominion, no unsupervised children, no alcohol for minors, etc.)
At the Gate, there must always be a paid SCA member (This is a Society Exchequer rule.) We must take reasonable precautions to secure the cash box. The event proceeds should be counted by two different people at the end of the event. Money may not be taken from the cash box during the event. Any last-minute expenses that come up during the event should be referred to the Exchequer.
If refunds are requested, there is a shire policy for that, here:
AFTER THE EVENT
It is a nice touch if the Autocrat writes and posts a brief event chronicle, including event highlights, and thanking people who came, and helped. (These chronicles are kept in the Freehold Archives – your event becomes an important part of our history!)
The autocrat or the exchequer should mail the waivers to the Kingdom Waiver Secretary (address is Yolanda Graham, 36 Stratford Terr., Springfield MA 01108)
The Shire Exchequer will do these things: Send a financial event report showing income and expenses to the Kingdom Exchequer (copies to the autocrat, seneschal, and deputy Exchequer). Mail the NMS proceeds to the Kingdom (if necessary). Deposit the funds collected at the Gate into our Shire account. Make reimbursements to people who had expenses (keep your receipts!).
SUMMARY OVERVIEW OF AUTOCRAT’S DUTIES
Think of an event you’d like to host. Find a site that works. Find people to run various aspects (feast, fighting, archery). Figure out your expenses, including site fee and materials. Estimate attendance, and work out a per-person fee structure. Get advice as necessary, for any of these steps. When you have settled on most details, send in an event bid request (see here for details). Await approval from seneschal and Financial Committee. Publicize event. Attend event and solve any issues that come up. Write a thank-you afterwards.
Places to get full information:
http://seneschal.eastkingdom.org/docs/EKSeneschalpolicies.pdf (pages 1-2) – Rules applicable to the East Kingdom’s events
http://seneschal.eastkingdom.org/docs/waiverpolicy.php – Waiver Policies applicable to the East Kingdom
http://socsen.sca.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Seneschals-Handbook-041214.pdf (pages 47-49 — for Information about Insurance.)