Jumping into the Deep End

My introduction to Arisia began in May of this year. That’s when someone suggested that I might be a good fit for the Events Staff. The Division Head for Events contacted me. We met, and I really liked her and what she had to say. So I joined up.

The Arisia staff is divided into 15 divisions. My division, Events, is responsible for the Wandering Minstrels, various activities (including “sharp, pointy objects” and a number of theatrical performances) and the Masquerade. I expect to be spending time over the next few months e-mailing and phoning acts, seeing who wants to return after a great time last year, and finding new groups to participate. I’m an “Assistant Division Head”, which means that I don’t have to know anything … yet .. and that I’m not ultimately responsible because, of course, I don’t know anything yet!

In June all the Div. Heads and Assistant Div. Heads got together with the Arisia Con Chair to go over everything that we have to do this year. I carpooled with four others, and we spent the 45-minute drive discussing food. Once we arrived, of course, we were fed! Lunch, and enough multicolored goldfish to fill a good-sized pond.We discussed knotty problems that included how to feed the Staff so that we can all work long hours and not spend time waiting in line. We discussed changes to the room assignments for events, forums, authors and so forth. We discussed the special issue of Tech Staff, who tend to need to work right through normal meal times. We discussed the fact that we are starting to burst at the seams, but there’s no larger hotel in the area. And then we started solving all these problems. Most of the problems will be solved through discussions at another time, but everyone is aware of the major issues now. I was impressed by how very opinionated most people were, and how they managed to be respectful of each other and listen regardless.

And then we moved on to the Master Schedule. A remarkable amount has to be completed by early September, including contracts with businesses and lining up a rough draft of performers, authors and artists. The schedule only gets busier, with final deadlines, people sending copy to the printer, the gathering of tech equipment, and finalizing arrangements with the Guests of Honor.

During the week from 12/25 – 1/1, I’m told that we all sit back and breathe. And that’s a good thing, because there will be no more time for breathing until Arisia is over. The Thursday before Arisia we start “put-in”. All the lights and mics arrive, get hooked up, and then we have our Staff Dinner.  On Friday we know what to do: we are scheduled to move people around, to shepherd speakers and Guests of Honor, to be on-call for problems, to do what it takes to make this Arisia the best ever. On Monday we breathe again. Arisia ends, so those who’ve signed up to strike take everything down, return what was borrowed or leased, put away what we keep, and go over this year’s Con to figure out what worked, what didn’t, and decompress. I am told that the debrief happens sometime in early February, when we all get together for food and commenting about what happened in January. I’m not sure what happens then, but by May most of the Staff will be back, sometimes in the same position, sometimes in new ones. New Staff will be brought on board. And then all us volunteers get to do it again.

Beth Kevles

Arisia ‘18 Events ADH