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.

The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events – Part 1 of 5

This is the first of five parts on setting up online events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or virtual event. Our blog as well as our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series are wonderful professional development resources.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Event Type, Audience, Timing & Pricing – TODAY
  • Part 2 – Choosing the Right Platform & Registration
  • Part 3 – Rapports & Introductions
  • Part 4 – Test Runs, Sound Checks & Logistics
  • Part 5 – Feedback Forms and Follow-Ups

Ready to go virtual? Congrats! And have you thought of this…

Almost anything that is done live can be adapted to be virtual. If you enjoy having mingling before or after the event, remember that you can still offer this virtually.

So ponder on how you want this event to look:

  • Performance Only
  • Workshop Only
  • Panel
  • Festival
  • Conference
  • Meet n’ Mingles, Chats, Discussions, Networking
  • Or any combination of the above

Once you know how simple or complicated you want it to be, you need to discover the audience. First, think of the age(s) and possibly families and genders.

You can think of audience as ages and/or as groupings as shown below:

  • “Littles” or also known as Toddlers/Preschoolers
  • Elementary Students (5-12)
  • Middle School Students (12-15)
  • Teenagers/High School Students (15-18)
  • University Students (18-24, yet many ages found)
  • Young Adults (18-35)
  • Middle-Aged Adults (35-55)
  • Older Adults (55+)
  • Seniors (65+)
  • Assisted Living (Typically 75+)
  • Young Families
  • Middle-Aged Families
  • Older Families and/or Multi-Generational Families
  • Men/Women/Boys/Girls

This does not even delve into audiences of cultures or subcultures:

  • Ethnic Groups, Deaf Community, Blind Community, Bilingual/Multi-lingual Peoples, Neighborhoods, etc.
  • Performing Arts Associations (including and/or narrowing down to – storytellers, musicians, writers/authors, actors, filmmakers, etc.)
  • Literary Arts Associations (including and/or narrowing down to – storytellers, writers/authors, English teachers, University professors, etc.)
  • Corporate Groups – Chambers of Commerce, Networking Organizations, Professional Associations, Online/Social Media Networks
  • Community Service Organizations – Rotary, Church Groups, United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Key Club, Nonprofits
  • Medical World – Hospitals, Hospice, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living & Preventative Drug, Alcohol, Violence, Abuse Programs
  • Education – Teachers, Tutors, Mentorship Programs, Continued Education Programs, Alumni
  • And on and on!

When you have selected and ranked the most relevant age(s) and group(s), then you can determine what would be easiest for those audiences for the timing of your event.

For example, if you are connecting with teachers and their classes, then you will want virtual field trips in the morning. Though, if you want to focus on only the teachers for professional development then you either need to have it late afternoon/evening of weekdays or on Saturdays.

If you are wanting a more global audience, then consider what storyteller Tim Sheppard has shared with many people–and gave us permission to share:

…Most people who run online events for both USA and Europe tend to pick times around 12 noon New York time, because that gets the most attendance. 1pm or 2pm New York time could work too. Noon New York means California can join in (9am), UK is at 5pm which is fairly easy, and the rest of Europe is at 6pm or 7pm – still convenient, and even India is at 9.30 or 10.30pm.

In another conversation with Tim, he mentioned the following:

I’ve attended many online seminars over the years, and entrepreneurs tend to measure their results, so their actions tend to be well-tested. Mind you, Australia gets left out of the equation, for this time slot – you can’t quite get it right for the whole world!

Yet, if people are anxious enough for the virtual event, then they will make it work. Even if that means 3am for their time zone.

Please always put the time zone whenever sharing your event – digital fliers, social media posts, emails, texts – EVERYTHING. We like using https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html. You can put in your event’s specific date/time and have several listings. You can share this specific web link on your event announcements and/or shorten the web address and customize through http://www.tinyurl.com.

The big question is on what price – if any – to place on the virtual event.

Here are some options:

  • Free, gift to the community, boost to public relations
  • Tip Jar/Pay What It’s Worth – risk at what will be raised with high and low results
  • Regular Price – same whether live or virtual due to the time and energy still required
  • Sliding Scale – minimum price, suggested price, higher options for those wanting to pay above suggested price
  • Increased Price – higher price for virtual rather than live due to convenience factor for the participant as well as the purchase of tech equipment to make it possible for the presenter and/or host

When determining which direction to take, consider:

  • Is this the only way the presenter(s) will be paid?
  • Will there be a flat fee of any kind given to the presenter(s)?
  • Is there dedicated grant(s) or fund(s) that allow the price to be low or free?
  • Do you have an established audience? If so, what are your audience(s) accustomed to paying? Would these same people resist or embrace a slight increase or decrease? How can you entice them if there is resistance? (Examples – offering free audio/video from presentation to those paying suggested donation, ability to re-watch for up to so long on on YouTube-private/unlisted, pdf handout emailed afterwards, etc.)
  • What is the perceived value of this event? Will that perceived value be helped or harmed by the fee linked to the virtual version of this event?
  • What is the average cost of this presentation within and beyond your geographical realm? Remember, you can still be higher or lower than this average. Please be aware and justify your pricing.

Someone reached out to me and said that this live event usually was free BUT the people were used to paying at least $10 for parking. In this situation, it would make sense to charge $10. Instead of going towards parking, this will now go towards the presentation.

Our preferred way is the Sliding Scale so that it can establish the suggested price and mix in options for those who are financially struggling as well as those who are financially generous.

Thus, our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series with 90-minute workshops have the following options:

  • $5 – minimum
  • $15
  • $25 – suggested donation
  • $35
  • $50

Notice that there are two choices lower and two choices higher than the suggested donation. At least 80% of our registrants chose the suggested donation for the three virtual workshops and performances we have charged so far. Another 15% have chosen one or two ABOVE the suggested donation. A couple chose the minimum or lower…and sometimes no one chose those options.

True, that is not a lot of events…but we will have more data as we continue these virtual events. This is new to us as to most everyone, but we have seen great success. We pass along this success to our professional story artists and presenters. The better we do, the better our presenters do. We love the win-win method.

We will go into how to set up Sliding Scale and possible Registration choices (free and monthly costs) in Part 2 of this Series…to come out August 18, 2020.

You can make this virtual. You can realize your dreams for it.

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.

Participate or present as part of the All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series that kicks off Monday, September 7, 2020 with Simon Brooks.

What Youth Tellers Want & Need – Part 7 of 7

This is the seventh of seven parts on gleaming from personal experiences as well as experiences of the 100+ youth who have taken the stage – live and virtual – through Story Crossroads since 2016. We support youth beyond the stage through Youth Teller Reunions as well as Live & Virtual Story Camps.

7-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Choosing the “Right” Words – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Friend/Listener/Mentor – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – The Storytelling Birthday – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Combining Talents – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – Ownership of Events & Beyond – REVEALED
  • Part 6 – Virtual Options – REVEALED
  • Part 7 – Wishlist Stages – TODAY

Youth burst out exciting ideas for stages – old and new.

Beware that I did not have a formal survey done. In fact, my two oldest kids – aged 10 and 12 – made me smile when I asked where they would like to perform…while having control over jitters.

My 10-year-old son took the traditional approach and wanted to tell at libraries. He would then want to venture onto bigger venues such as the Viridian Event Center. Interestingly, this is linked to the West Jordan Library…so technically still a library. But it is bigger in all regards. It was where we launched Story Crossroads in 2016.

My 12-year-old son decided that he wanted to improve his stories and be taught by someone to polish them up. He wanted to participate in the district-level storytelling festival that happens to feed into Story Crossroads. So far, he has not had teachers who actively teach and encourage their students to take part in that district-level event. Though, I am told that anyone can ask to be part of the district-level event if approved by a teacher. He knows that he would have to earn any spot with Story Crossroads and this is where to begin.

So, sniff, sniff, love how my boys think.

Now, are you ready for some incredible ideas?

My oldest has his eye on the GIGANTIC stage being built at The Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake County, Utah. He then listed the Smithsonian – National Air and Space Museum. He has always loved space and that would be his celestial-level dream.

But it does not stop here. He wanted to be the storyteller for a roller coaster at Lagoon. People could bring their own earbuds for the sounds of the story or be blasted somehow. He said that there are such things as VR Roller Coasters (see video of five of them) and perhaps something could be merged that way.

He imagined being the official storyteller of a laser tag arena to add to the intense adventure while people played.

Finally, he wanted to combine his beat-boxing skills with storytelling and perform first for a school stage and eventually at a Hip Hop concert.

Wow, wow, and more wow!

Why tell you all of this? Will this match the wishlist stages of the youth around you?

Maybe, maybe not.

The point is…have you asked? And…as truly anything is possible with enough commitment and imagination…is there any way you can make these wishlist stages come true?

I can realistically make a call at the Aquarium and propose the idea. Obviously, it would be easy to link up with libraries. Maybe youth can perform alongside a regularly scheduled storytime – combining story-reading with storytelling?

But what if those venues are closed? In lock-down?

Are there any libraries doing virutal programming? Could virtual backgrounds reveal these dream stages?

Don’t let something like a lock-down keep you down.

Brainstorm and be as awesome in ideas as our youth.

Be there for our youth – today.

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.

And…our next 5-part blog series will be “The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events” with the first part out on August 17, 2020.

What Youth Tellers Want & Need – Part 6 of 7

This is the sixth of seven parts on gleaming from personal experiences as well as experiences of the 100+ youth who have taken the stage – live and virtual – through Story Crossroads since 2016. We support youth beyond the stage through Youth Teller Reunions as well as Live & Virtual Story Camps.

7-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Choosing the “Right” Words – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Friend/Listener/Mentor – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – The Storytelling Birthday – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Combining Talents – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – Ownership of Events & Beyond – REVEALED
  • Part 6 – Virtual Options – TODAY
  • Part 7 – Wishlist Stages

Virtual options are prevalent today…and were yesterday and will be into the future.

Almost any idea you have can be transformed to virtual.

I did not always think this way. Live events are the best experiences, yet something not “the best” can still be wonderful. Many of us have had our eyes opened to possibilities due to lock-downs and stay-at-home mandates. While areas open up and gatherings of limited-sized are allowed, virtual events continue to be viable and important.

The same goes for youth events.

What can be virtual for youth?

  • Performances and Festivals
  • Workshops and Story Camps
  • Youth Teller Reunions
  • “Check-Ins” or “Chats” with other Youth Tellers – Informal
  • Story Game Nights
  • Round-Robin Storytelling or Break-out Groups for Developing Stories
  • Submitting Auditions or Story Pieces to be Reviewed/Selections
  • Mentoring/Coaching

Sounds like everything that can be done live? Yes, you are right.

Giving yourself permission to have any live event be adapted to virtual is freeing and a relief. Things do not have to stay canceled or postponed. There does not have to be months of nothing.

Of course, if you never pursued these youth events on the live level–such as Youth Teller Reunions–then give yourself permission to have the virtual event be the premiere and add the live version down the road.

More and more, I look forward to when we can offer both kinds of Reunions – live and virtual. Perhaps the live would be in the summer while the virtual would be in the winter. Something.

In the meantime, what platforms can work for these virtual events?

Need more? Check out this article: https://www.aventri.com/blog/tech-tuesday-the-top-13-online-meeting-platforms

Keep in mind that anything that involves the virtual world needs permissions from guardian(s) the same for live events. Even when do events as free or with tuition, involve a level of registration. This can be done through Google Forms and easily transformed into an Excel document. You could have a registration service. We recently have connected with Wild Apricot and love it. Figure out what works best for you.

Make something happen. Virtually. For youth.

Be there for our youth – today.

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.

And…Spread the word about our upcoming Story Camp for youth aged 8-17 in mid-August of two kinds: Limited-Sized/Proper-Distanced as well as Virtual.