How to do it… Staging a Bi Day event

BCN cover image

Staging a bisexual awareness event or bi-day for beginners…

First you need an excuse. This can be Celebrate Bisexuality Day, Valentines, raising profile of a growing local bi group, flagging up bi issues with your local LGBT organisations, or just cos you feel like it. Actually, excuses are optional. In most places there’s so little bi community stuff going on, that the event justifies itself.  So just do it.

Next you need a date and venue. The Manchester event used a handy LGBT centre and found a source of funds to pay the room hire; the Shrewsbury one just took over a side room at a local bar and wrangled getting it free. Depending on the town you’re in one or the other of these is probably the most likely route to getting a place to stage things.

Now, what are you hoping to achieve? The programme writes itself from here: the Shrewsbury bi day was a general awareness event in an area with no bi scene, whereas in Manchester there’s a pretty strong bi movement, which generates its own issues that can be addressed.  You don’t have to have workshops, films or speakers, but they can provide a focus especially for the more timid attendees who may not want to launch themselves at strangers and talk about whatever may be on their minds.

In general, people are coming along with a positive frame of mind and with an aim to enjoy themselves, so you can get away with almost anything, but if you have a few objectives it’s easier to consider whether the event was a success. The Manchester event aimed for “fifty people, workshops addressing concerns raised through and without BiPhoria during the year, and non-BiPhoria and non-bi attendees”  The Shrewsbury one just aimed to “get a dozen people to wander through and hopefully talk to us”.

Lean on outside help if you can.  BCN can supply sample issues of the magazine to have on display or give out, the starter’s pack is an invaluable resource, and BiCon organisers jump at the chance to have fliers given out somewhere.  Depending on the location and date you may well be able to get a guest speaker from the community along if you want one: it’s worth asking at any rate.

With venue, date, programme and objectives in place, publicity is the key. Obviously you tell BCN about it, and drop emails to the Pink Paper, local events rag, and if you have a couple of months lead-in time then try things like Gay Times and Diva.  Does your local radio station have a gay programme or slot? If you’re new to press release writing, just remember these journo types need to know what is happening, when, where, why, who is invited and who is staging it all. Stock photos from past bicons and bi days help if you have them, but don’t worry too much.  You can also produce fliers for leafleting gay and friendly venues (arty cinemas, radical bookshops etc) and see if local lesbian & gay organisations will include info in their newsletters, mailouts and so forth.  Obviously, you cut your cloth to fit your budget (or what you can sneak through the photocopier in work when no-one is looking) here.

Use of social networks is an important part of a successful event.  Many BCN readers will have been to BiCon, previous Bi Days, and so forth: use phone calls, LiveJournal, email lists and so on to cajole people into attending!

Finally, food and drink help a lot.  If you’ve some outside funding you can really go to town with this, while for smaller affairs, if you have a few eager people locally willing to donate tea, coffee and so on, it may help raise a few pounds towards getting a group moving or growing.

Now with all the elements in place, sit back and watch it unfurl magically as a beautiful and uplifting event that helps bi’s from near and far feel more a part of a community.  Or worry about it like hell and spend the day running about making sure nothing else has gone wrong yet if you’re anything like me.  Do try and get some pictures for BCN and your web archives along the way though!

Jen

[in print edition] Pictures from top left: bi’s and allies of all generations at Manchester; the promo postcards; digesting the  handouts in Shrewsbury; and the Shrewsbury and Manchester teams.