What We Learned from Proper-Distanced Events – Part 4 of 5

This is the fourth of five parts on setting up proper-distanced events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or proper-distanced event. Our blog as well as our proper-distanced house concerts with rental of recordings are wonderful sources of information and entertainment.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Distancing & Spacing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Sanitation & Other Safety Measures – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Test Runs & Early Set-Ups – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Relief to Potential Audience – TODAY
  • Part 5 – Audience Isolation Behaviors

Everything is new now. Routines, safety measures, everything. So our job is to give relief to our potential audience members.

Fear comes from the unknown. Thus, you need to make anything you can think of to be “known.”

Now in Part 3, we focused on Test Runs so that things are “known” to you before the performance. It is only fair for this knowledge to extend to the general public. You will want to take pictures and video galore and see what can be done with some video editing.

You could hire a videographer. Though, we like to get a videographer for the day of the event and use our own filming from our cell phones and compile it into an “what to expect” piece. Ours tend to be 2-3 minutes long, which feels not too short and not too long. We like to combine it with a invite/reflection from our featured teller(s).

See below an example from the past-

Having a visual of the place before arriving helps in this time of proper-distancing and masks.

You need to be clear on any and all advertising–video, fliers, emails, etc.–on what you expect about masks.

Some organizations or individuals are more relaxed with masks when it is outdoors. For Story Crossroads, we prefer to be strict and actually enforce the rules we put in place. We require masks. Period. People will have differing opinions. Though once they step onto our “land” – such as a host for a house concert or a park for a festival – then our rules are in place.

Your audience needs to know how strict you will be. Never assume.

You will notice that our video reveals some details though we save some of those details for the bullet-point listing on our webpage. We also include those details in the registration and reminder emails to registrants. There is no such thing as over-communicating when it comes to safety.

Details that Audience will want to know before arriving:

  • Set-up of the Location
  • Rules you have about Masks
  • Any other sanitization measures such as having hand sanitizer around
  • What to do about the facilities and expectations
  • Your feelings about “sitting by household” – especially if from same family but not the same household
  • Any recording option in case cannot attend OR if more comfortable staying home yet supporting the event

Free Video Editing or Design (or what we use):

We will share more in Part 5 on audience isolation behaviors and how to still have wonderful reactions for the performers. We will share some interesting moments during and after the proper-distanced events.

You can make this live event happen. Think with logic and love. Enjoy the energy from a proper-distanced event.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Join us for our proper-distanced house concerts such as with Katherine and David Hurley featuring Karl Behling in Murray, UT on December 28, 2020…or get the recording afterwards.

What We Learned from Proper-Distanced Events – Part 3 of 5

This is the third of five parts on setting up proper-distanced events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or proper-distanced event. Our blog as well as our proper-distanced house concerts with rental of recordings are wonderful sources of information and entertainment.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Distancing & Spacing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Sanitation & Other Safety Measures – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Test Runs & Early Set-Ups – TODAY
  • Part 4 – Relief to Potential Audience
  • Part 5 – Audience Isolation Behaviors

People are used to Sound Checks the day of the live event…but a Test Run several weeks before are crucial when re-phasing from virtual to live.

You don’t want to figure out the routine and look the day of the event. Have your stopwatch ready to find out how long it takes to set-up. Remember that it could take shorter if you have help (still keep properly-distanced) as well as longer for the first time testing out the placement of everything.

Time flies when you have a show to put on. You want to start on time. Or at least within five minutes after the start time. Proper-distancing naturally takes a longer time for people to get to their seats due to more lines.

Be watchful and actually set-up the space to solve the following:

  • Any areas that could be bottle-neck areas for crowds of people and how to stretch out and guide people in those locations
  • Placement of visual cues for people to find stage/seating for the event
  • Places for signage, even repeating the same signage at key points
  • Location(s) of sanitation table(s) with hand sanitizer, disinfectant, etc.
  • Distances of electricity outlets – inside or outside – and making sure you have long enough extension cords as well as surge protectors that work
  • Ways to cover cords for the safety of performers/volunteers/audience when walking around – such as large outdoor mats/rugs
  • Easy place for people to find bottled water – whether given or sold
  • Practicing of how to do assigned seating for individuals/households – small 1-foot wooden stakes with last names, taped names on back of chairs with last names, etc.
  • Location of Pre-packaged refreshments for people to take home to eat (NOT on location), if offered

You need to figure out how people will enter the area – no matter if it is outdoors or indoors.

With our re-phased proper-distanced House Concerts, we needed to use the Executive Director’s backyard.

A narrow “gauntlet” exists to the right of the garage to enter the yard. If people arrived at the same time, this could be a danger zone of bottle-necking and potential problem with proper-distancing. Thus, we used the wooden stakes (as mentioned in Part 2), and pounded them in 6 feet apart. Each wooden stake was 3 feet long so we had two extra that worked as a quick 6-foot measuring tool. You can use measuring tape or two yard sticks as other measuring guides.

Now, wooden stakes combined with signage reminds people what they already know. We can all be a little forgetful.

While testing out where to place items, equipment, and signage, take pictures as well as video.

We decided that not every wooden stake needed a sign. You have too much signage…and none of them get read.

However, make sure your most important reminders are at the beginning, middle, and the end of “the path” no matter if outdoors or indoors. Always think “the power of three” for signs.

Debate if you want your sanitation to be at the front/beginning of the path or closer to the gathering area.

We chose to have it closer to the gathering area. This allows us to keep a better eye on it and possible for people to re-apply hand sanitizer, if wished. When indoors, people usually have sanitizer in the lobby area where no one can miss it rather than inside the stage area.

Please, please, please test out your electricity cords and outlets.

Connect lights and click the switches on and off. Every so often, the outlets do not work! You thought you had two or four to work with and find out that only one works. As we have sound, trio box lights, and two video cameras at any one proper-distanced event, we need all outlets and be confident that all will be well during the event.

We had two surge protectors. We tested out one of the surge protectors for our sound and lights. We…forgot to test the other surge protector needed for the two video cameras. Luckily, those cameras were charged up, but how embarrassing. Never assume. We also discovered the value of having at least one more than what you think you need. For example, are you planning on two 100′ electrical cords? Have a third. You plan on two surge protectors? Have a third.

You got this. Test, adjust, and adapt.

We will share more in Part 4 on what to do after taking pictures and videos of this Test Run so as to educate your potential audience members.

You can make this live event happen. Think with logic and love. Enjoy the energy from a proper-distanced event.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Join us for our proper-distanced house concerts such as with Nannette Watts in West Jordan, UT on September 18, 2020…or get the recording afterwards.

What We Learned from Proper-Distanced Events – Part 2 of 5

This is the second of five parts on setting up proper-distanced events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or proper-distanced event. Our blog as well as our proper-distanced house concerts with rental of recordings are wonderful sources of information and entertainment.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Distancing & Spacing – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Sanitation & Other Safety Measures – TODAY
  • Part 3 – Test Runs & Early Set-Ups
  • Part 4 – Relief to Potential Audience
  • Part 5 – Audience Isolation Behaviors

You know that hand sanitizer is a must but there are MUCH MORE to understand and have available.

In fact, this part will be long…but important. You can see an even longer version as a type of checklist by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Order your sanitation supplies early.

Lysol has been extremely popular and hard to get unless you order online or find a local smaller store. While Lysol wipes have been popular, we have loved the spray better. It is faster and not only helps to sanitize the object-in-question but also the surrounding air near it, as COVID-19 is spread through water droplets.

All hand sanitizers are not made equal so be careful whenever buying “off” brand.

You can still get “off” brand, but look at reviews from other people before committing to purchasing it. And…sanitizer does not have to smell pretty. It only has to work. Click here for “Best Hand Sanitizers of 2020” put out by Healthline.

We already warned about performing indoors in a classroom-sized or smaller area in Part 1. Though, what these rooms do have for many Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms is a sink. Hand-washing has been proven to be MUCH more effective than hand sanitizer. So…if you are working with classroom students, then ask for the teacher to make sure they all wash their hands with soap before walking out of the classroom to the larger indoor or outdoor space.

For festival-sized events, you will want to purchase or rent portable hand washing stations with paper towels (NOT the cloth ring that gets re-used).

Even after this historic time, you may wish for a few of these stations to be part of your regular festival inventory. For example, the Utah Arts Festival has always had many of these portable hand washing stations near the portable toilets. This has always been a smart way for good hygiene. Click here for “Top 10 Portable Handwashing Stations” of 2020 that can be found on Amazon.

Back-up masks must be made available…even if you have already told your attendees to wear masks.

Well-intention audience members could forget. People who prefer not to wear masks could also arrive. You must be insistent and be firm and be willing to guide people in a loving way. Already discuss as an organization/individuals of what the policy would be if someone refuses to wear a mask. There are medical reasons…but rare.

Even someone with asthma can wear a mask. We allow if someone is on the spectrum for Autism or other mental needs. However, someone who purely refuses – despite knowing from all your advertising that masks are required – needs to be politely dismissed. Work out together on the right words to say in that moment.

You will also need to be clear that masks must cover the mouth and nose. Certainly not the chin or chin/barely-the-mouth. Any people who are monitoring the event (emcees, volunteers, etc.) need to know how to nicely remind people how to wear them. If someone is a repeated offender, then, again, know how to politely dismiss someone. It is better to be firm than lenient in this case. We have not experienced this level of refusal or inadequate wearing of masks yet…but have the verbal/mental preparation, if needed.

Discuss with your story artists on what they plan to do for masks.

Performers are allowed to take off their masks if all other safety measures are followed. The performers will still want to wear masks before and after…possibly during.

Many singers are loving the singer’s mask while in the Deaf community you see masks with a window covering so that facial expressions can be seen. Here is a link on how to make one while here are seven kinds one can purchase.

Remember that a face shield only works in combination with a mask.

Only wearing a face shield is not approved in certain buildings or workplaces due to the ineffective way to prevent as does the classic cloth mask. Click here is a study from researchers connected with Florida Atlantic University.

When it comes to sanitizing microphones, please make sure it happens.

People will cringe if there is an emcee followed by a performer and nothing has been done. Well, not everyone will cringe. We would!

We like the quick spray of the Lysol. Some people wipe down with Lysol wipes or something similar. As shared at the beginning of this post, we love the idea of the microphone and the air around it to be sanitized. You miss that part when it is only a wipe-down. If you are worried about stickiness, then you can wipe after the event is done. We have not seen any problems yet.

A microphone is practicaclly required now whether your event is indoors or outdoors. The rule before COVID was always have a microphone outside no matter the size of the audience.

We forgot our own rule when it came to our live Story Camp. We properly distanced the 15 youth (we could not no more than 20 at the park and that included the adults) that took up at least 2-3 classroom sizes. We did not bring a portable microphone. Our two facilitators/presenters had to project and we worried if their voices would last for three days of this camp. Somehow, their voices held. However, this is a different safety measure beyond sanitation: protecting the voices of your talented and valued performers.

The other microphone rule is to have a microphone indoors if there are at least 25 people. The fact that properly spacing 15 youth already takes up 2-3 classroom sizes, then the spacing alone means you need a microphone and a way you will sanitize between people.

Whether indoors or outdoors with a microphone, you will want the minimum 12 feet (or perhaps 13ish feet/4 meters) from the front row as already shared in Part 1.

But you ask, how do we best indicate to the audience of the spacing? What equipment do we need?

The following can work to give visual cues:

  • Wooden stakes, both 3′ and 1′ ones – found at hardware/home improvement stores and really affordable
  • Bright sports discs – used often by little league sports such as soccer and weaving balls around and such, we found a set of two discs for $1.00 at the dollar store and only spent $10 for 20 discs
  • Regular Safety Cones OR Collapsible Safety Cones (our favorites), bit of an investment) – more bulky than the sports discs but can still do the trick
  • Hula Hoops with Carrying Case (holds up to 12 per Case)– think of them like light-weight carpet squares that works whether you are a kid or an adult BUT expensive and ones found in dollar stores sometimes are too small OR the hula hoops are seasonal and found only at certain times of the year
  • Marking Spray Paint – find out if you have permission

By the way, if you do order any of these items on Amazon, please choose Smile Amazon instead and give back to our nonprofit, Story Crossroads.

Of all these options, we LOVED the bright sports discs and the wooden stakes. We cannot always use the wooden stakes or anything that would mark the grass.

With the Story Camp, it was held at the gorgeous International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah. No staking or painting of any kind could be used. We used the bright sports discs…but a bit of warning. While setting up, the grounds crew was mowing the grass. We did not think they were mow towards us since we had the space officially reserved. The lawn mower ran over two of our discs before he realized what was happening. And this is why you need more than you need in any situation. We had extra and all was good. Except for bits of orange plastic everywhere. Glad we got that cleaned up before starting!

What of Liability Insurance?

No, we would never use our liability insurance to replace two orange discs worth $1.00.

When Story Crossroads first existed, we focused on special events liability insurance. Since 2018, we have general liability insurance so that it covers beyond our main festival in mid-May and any and all events we do as well as day-to-day volunteer work. Our liability insurance does not cover any vendors. They have their own signed agreement that either they prove to us that they have their own or sign a waiver to hold us harmless.

Yet, COVID-19 has brought up this topic on if it is covered. The answer? No.

When we renew our general liability insurance in February 2021, we will be curious to see if rates are suddenly much higher or there will be some mention of COVID within the policy or at least for an additional premium. For example, “acts of terrorism” is an optional coverage that became more prevalent after September 11, 2001 (also known as 9/11).

Whether free or for a cost, we have people read our Liability and Indemnity Agreement (COVID) and checkmark that it was read and understood. This is during our required pre-registration, which is easier to set-up with a paid registration service like our through Wild Apricot.

We have templates in Word and in PDF that you are welcome to adapt for your needs. These templates and other producer materials can be found here.

In Part 3, we will delve into test runs and set-ups using this equipment and best “backdrops” no matter if inside or outside.

You can make this live event happen. Think with logic and love. Enjoy the energy from a proper-distanced event.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Join us for our proper-distanced house concerts such as with Nannette Watts in West Jordan, UT on September 18, 2020…or get the recording afterwards.

What We Learned from Proper-Distanced Events – Part 1 of 5

This is the first of five parts on setting up proper-distanced events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or proper-distanced event. Our blog as well as our proper-distanced house concerts with rental of recordings are wonderful sources of information and entertainment.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Distancing & Spacing – TODAY
  • Part 2 – Sanitation & Other Safety Measures
  • Part 3 – Test Runs & Early Set-Ups
  • Part 4 – Relief to Potential Audience
  • Part 5 – Audience Isolation Behaviors

You are ready for live performance again…with spacing and masks…and what else?

Nothing beats the intense energy when performing live. Naturally, you want to rush to it as fast as safely possible.

We paused our regular house concert series from March – July 2020 and then rephased into proper-distanced house concerts on August 14. That same week, we offered both live and virtual story camps.

And people thanked us.

So what works for spacing?

No longer did it feel like indoor house concerts could be considered. The most we packed into my home was 45 people. If proper-distancing, I feel like I can only have 10 people. True, that is better than nothing.

Think of bigger areas.

Outdoors combined with proper-distancing and masks is the triple net of safety.

Even if your area is fine with people not wearing masks outside, we decided to be ultra-sensitive to it as we–as an organization and as individuals–put the safety of our story artists and audience first.

Here are large outdoor spaces that can work for proper-distancing:

  • Backyards – do you or an Executive Director, Board Member, Volunteer, Amazing Citizen have a large space that can hold at least 30+ people with spacing of 6 feet/2 meters front/back/sides (think spacing of 3+ classrooms)
  • Parking Lots – largest ones tend to be of churches, schools, events centers – does anyone you know work or volunteer at one of these places to “strike a deal”? – can work with folding chairs and/or parked cars like drive-in theater/movies
  • Parks – depending on your code/phase for your area, find out how many people you can gather in one place – 20? 50? 100? – receive permission/permit from park to allow the gathering
  • School Grounds – not parking lot, but the grassy parts – again, do you know someone with that school to “strike a deal”?
  • Any other Big & Open Areas – does not always have to be a field as hills can work as a natural amphitheater even if not originally set-up as an official venue

Here are large indoor spaces to consider for proper-distancing:

  • Chapel area of Churches – probably could fit 20-40 with 6 feet/2 meters front/back/sides
  • School Gymnasiums, Auditoriums or Cafeterias- probably a quarter of original capacity, if that
  • Super Large Living Rooms – most people do not have super large living rooms but I saw one once that could easily hold 100+ people, which probably could hold 40 at most now with proper-distancing
  • Event Centers – again, double-check on what actual capacity would be compared to original capacity
  • On Top of Roofs – if gated/safe, number of possible audience members depends on spacing
  • Any Other Large Buildings with Chapel/Ballroom/Large Gathering Areas – figure out number for proper-distancing by multiplying 1/4 by the original capacity number

During this time, avoid classroom-sized areas.

You will still get people offering an opportunity. Brainstorm with them on larger areas that both of you can easily access–and hopefully for free or minimal cost.

How far apart is the performer from the front row?

  • Minimum 12 feet (or perhaps 13ish feet/4 meters)
  • Some places are more 15 feet to 20 feet, especially if the performer admits to being a “spitter”

What about spacing between rows?

  • 6 feet/2 meters is the minimum – though strangely some students are back in the classroom and lucky to be 3 feet apart! – but don’t let that be the standard for the performing artists
  • Feel free to space out more if you wish

Need some studies or articles to support the importance of spacing/distancing?:

We will delve into sanitation, good habits, equipment, and liability/indemnity to make things safer for everyone in Part 2.

You can make this live event happen. Think with logic and love. Enjoy the energy from a proper-distanced event.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Join us for our proper-distanced house concerts such as with Nannette Watts in West Jordan, UT on September 18, 2020…or get the recording afterwards.

Why Story Crossroads Loves National Storytelling Network (You Could, too!)–Part 5 of 5

This is the fifth of five parts on benefits to take advantage of as a member of the National Storytelling Network. Story Crossroads is proud to be an organization member of NSN.

Awesomeness Revealed:

  • Part 1 – Borrow NSN’s nonprofit status for grants–as individual or organization – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Research through Greenwood’s World Folklore and Folklife Database for free – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Delve into NSN’s Accreditation Program – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Benefit from in-state tuition for Storytelling Masters (with virtual options) REVEALED
  • Part 5 – Participate in special interest groups – education, organizations, healing, leadership/producing – TODAY

You love many aspects of storytelling. You love many aspects of storytelling that range from education to organizations to healing to leadership and producing. You love it all and want to promote anything related to the art of storytelling.

Enough of the assumptions? Well, it’s the final part of this blog series. And…whether or not they are all true, that is fine.

NOW…DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS IN EXACTLY THOSE CATEGORIES THROUGH THE NATIONAL STORYTELLING NETWORK?

Youth, Educators, and Storytellers (YES)

I love all the special interest groups, though I do have a favorite. I am biased because I started storytelling as sophomore in high school. Thus, the “Youth” part of the Youth, Educators, and Storytellers will always have my heart. And…it probably helps that I was Co-Chair for a couple years. But that set aside–

Did you know that the YES has a one-page position statement about 17 key benefits of storytelling in education? I have touted that statement for years and it is as relevant and wonderful today as it was in 2006. So many other current resources are available and make it easier for storytellers to work alongside educators. If you happen to be a storyteller AND a classroom-teacher, then you have more reason than anyone else to be part of YES.

The Storytelling in Higher Education (SHE) merged with YES so education expands to mean preschool, K-12th grades, and college-levels.

Storytelling in Organizations (SIO)

I have loved SIO more from a distance though with a respected gaze. During the 2020 NSN’s Virtual Conference & Festival, I was able to go to one of SIO’s gatherings. The experience there was mind-boggling. While some people specialized in working with lawyers or medical professionals, many other celebrated success with assisting nonprofits and small businesses in applied storytelling. Whether a “newbie” or a “veteran,” all have much to give in this group.

Healing Story Alliance (HSA)

Again, this is another special interest I have cheered on from the sidelines. I was bummed when I missed the HSA’s 2020 PreConference Concert as the library had me scheduled and no one could trade my shift. Though, I bought the full conference package and will anxiously watch that one. A long time ago, Dr. Joseph Sobol/East Tennessee State University (remember Storytelling Program in part four) received a grant so that a storytelling project connected with Cancer patients and survivors. HSA has had stories collected ranging from stories to encourage open and civil discussions, peace-making tales, environmental-themes tales, and so much more.

Producers & Organizers (PRO)

For decades, the PRO Special Interest Group as synonymous with “Loren Niemi.” He has since passed that baton to Lisa Overholser, who is the Executive Director of the long-running St. Louis Storytelling Festival. I find this group to be the most forward-thinking individuals. When 2020 turned “interesting,” who had to make rapid-fire decisions? The PRO people. Talk about pivoting and adapting! When Story Crossroads began, it was the free Producers and Organizers manual on running storytelling events that gave us a foundation.

Keep in mind that being a member of these special interest groups does have an additional cost to the NSN membership. Some special interest groups even allow you to be dues-paying memberships without the NSN membership.

Yet, dues-paying or not, each of these special interest groups truly are special and provide amazing services that are open for anyone to enjoy. The next step of saying “thank you” to that work is to official be dues-paying members.

Thrilled beyond measure? Wanting the fastest way to connect with like-minded individuals as well as those of differing perspectives through special interest groups through the National Storytelling Network?

Today is that time. Go here for the opportunity to be connected and be part of the National Storytelling Network.

Want to discover more beyond this 5-part Blog Series? We will be doing a 7-part Blog Series on Storytelling and connections with the Humanities as a countdown to our next adventure--join us on Saturday, June 20, 2020 from 9:00am-10:30am MDT from your computer- The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities.

See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.