Build your own Big Bi Fun Day
Hannah explores how to run an annual event like The Big Bi Fun Day.
A couple of years ago I took over organising an annual bi event, Big Bi Fun Day. Sanji had devised and run it successfully for six years before stepping down. I decided to come on board as I didn’t want to see such a wonderful space come to an end. The event had been popular within the community and I wanted to honour that by keeping it alive.
I wanted to share Sanji’s handover notes (with my additions) to let others know that holding an event like this is a relatively easy thing to do. We both hope others reading this will feel inspired to create something similar in their own area.
What is The Big Bi Fun Day?
It is a child-friendly event that happens once a year in May in a Quaker Meeting House in Leicester.
People can socialise, play games, enjoy the garden, pick up useful leaflets and information and benefit from being in a bi-majority safe space. There are no workshops, planned activities or planned entertainment. The event almost runs itself.
Step 1 – Find and Book a Venue
I was lucky in that Sanji had already found somewhere to run the event. If you don’t know of a venue already this will probably be the hardest part of organising something. Good luck!
Your venue will need to be:
As accessible as possible (e.g step-free access, disabled toilets, a hearing loop, a quiet space for those who are noise sensitive etc. etc.)
Alcohol-free – to keep it child-friendly and accessible for many others who don’t want to be around alcohol
Be easy to get to by walking or by using public transport
LGBT+ friendly. Tell the venue the nature of your event. Don’t try to hide it and risk them finding out later and being hostile or discriminatory.
Parking on site or close by will also be essential for some.
Ideally, it will also be:
● Child-friendly if you want to run a family-friendly event (e.g kids can run around and not wonder off outside or onto the road)
● Where possible a space only your group will be using for that event, such as your own room no one else will come into.
● A place with a kitchen or kitchenette so people can boil the kettle and wash up pots
Book your room/venue as far as possible in advance. For the Big Bi Fun Day, I try to book around 10 months before the day and pay the deposit so the booking is secured.
For a pre-existing event that raises enough money you can make enough to pay for the venue for next year through donations. Otherwise, you will probably have to pay for it out of your own money until you make it back to reimburse yourself.
If you don’t have enough money for a deposit you could crowdfund or ask Bi Continuity Limited for a grant (http://biconcontinuity.org.uk/funding/). If you are crowdfunding organisations like Bisexual Index or Bi Continuity News could post your link on social media to help spread the word.
Step 2 – Promote, Promote, Promote!
Promote anywhere and everywhere you can think of. See this post
[bisexualblogs.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/advertising-your-bi-group/] for more suggestions.
Ask everyone you can think of to share links on social media, distribute leaflets, tell their friends, share ideas for where to advertise.
Use a variety of platforms. A website such as a page on WordPress that anyone can see, Facebook events, Twitter, flyers, listings with LGBT+ organisations… anywhere you can! That way no one is excluded because they happen not to use one particular site.
Lastly, write some ground-rules or guidelines and publish these where you can link people to. That way people know what kind of behaviour is or isn’t acceptable in advance. The ones for The Big Bi Fun Day can be found here: bigbifunday.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/expected-behaviour/
Step 3 – Remind, remind, remind!
Do this all year. Especially around the New Year when people are buying their calendars for the year ahead and filling them in. Remind people 6 months in advance, 3 months, 1 month, 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week, a few days before, the day before, and on the day!
You can schedule posts in advance or ask people to help you with this if you don’t have the time or the energy to do it by yourself.
Step 4 – Preparation
A month before the big day write a list of everything you might need for your event. Do it well in advance so you have plenty of time to get everything you need.
● For The Big Bi Fun Day, my list looks like this:
● Double check the venue still has your booking
● Buy insurance (The Big Bi Fun Day currently uses Graham Sykes: http://graham-sykes.co.uk but do shop around)
● Bi and rainbow flags
● Toys for inside and outside
● Signs to put up around the building
● A donations tin
● Tape/blue tack
● Pens, crayons, felt tips, paper etc.
● To buy the day before or on the day; basic food and drink supplies for attendees.
You don’t have to bring everything yourself. In fact, one of the reasons this type of event works so well is that everyone brings things which are useful/ interesting for other people. For example, in the past I have brought poi and flower sticks which people have liked playing with. In return I have enjoyed the snacks others have brought and enjoyed watching others play games.
Things others can bring:
● Craft items
● Card and board games
● Food and drinks to share (remind people to bring ingredient lists if baking their own things)
● Toys and games to play
● Books for people look at or swap
Finally, plan in your head the layout for your event and how you will put everything out/up when you arrive. What tasks could you delegate? This helps you set up quickly without any problems and allows you to get straight to greeting attendees and enjoying the day.
Step 5 – On the day
If your event needs donations from attendees to cover the costs, you can make an announcement to say how much money you have left to raise before the end of the event.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to do what you need them to, e.g. don’t go in a certain room, that someone must leave the event because they’ve done X, that they need to keep the noise down in a certain area. It’s hard to confront people, but it needs to be done for the wellbeing of attendees and the wellbeing of the event.
Ask people to help tidy up and pack everything away about 30 minutes *before* the end of the event so you are ready to leave on time.
Ask if anyone consents to have their photo taken for social media and publications like Bi Community News (we love photos from bi events! – Editor)
Ask volunteers to help out by being your eyes and ears for the event and letting you know if they see any incidents or potential problems. They can also cover for you whilst you have a break to enjoy the event yourself and get some rest.
Keep an eye on the donations tin in case someone tries to steal it
Circulate regularly to see how everyone is getting on. Sometimes you discover things you need to act in this way, such as someone sitting alone who might welcome your help to socialise, or a spilt drink that needs wiping up.
Step 6 – After the event
Thank your contact at the venue for letting you use it!
Ask if anyone would like to do a write up for Bi Continuity News, or write one yourself.
Thank everyone for coming, ask for feedback on what worked and didn’t work. Feedback can come in many forms and a picture book can work well for younger attendees.
Keep a track of how much you spent, how much in donations you received and how much you will need for next year and adjust your plans accordingly.
If you have leftover donations from the event but decide not to run it again, donate to a bi related cause. If you aren’t sure which one to donate to, you can have a look through the Bi Community News listings pages.
Step 7 – Treat Yourself!
Running an event is hard work. Treat yourself to something nice like a lie in, a bath, or a trip to the cinema. Take a break and congratulate yourself. You ran a thing. Well done!