Establishing a Working Timeline

Once you have your festival planning committee lined up, with monthly meetings scheduled, you then have to plan carefully so that everything falls into place and that is where a working timeline comes into play. There is so much to be done, and a timeline will keep everyone on the same page in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the festival. Your working timeline should span minimally five months of planning, but a year ahead is optimal for success. The sample timeline below may not include everything you want to accomplish monthly, but it does indicate the majority of the necessary details that have to be covered. Starting a year out, you will be dividing up the tasks below into twelve months instead of five, which gives you a lot more time to accomplish everything. Also, some tasks will be repeated from one month to the next.

Month 1

  • Formulate a working budget
  • Contact potential sponsors and partners
  • Research and fill out applications for possible grants
  • Sign contract with site (obviously after having done a site visit)
  • Contact possible speakers and presenters, including a keynote if having one
  • Contact potential vendors and exhibitors, sending them registration forms

Month 2

  • Contact and, if necessary, contract with rental companies for chairs, tables, lecterns, and audiovisual equipment
  • Follow up on potential sponsors, partners, and grants
  • Confirm speakers and keynote (if having one) with contracts signed delineating whether the presenter is receiving no remuneration or is receiving travel expenses
  • Follow up on exhibitors’ and vendors’ registration forms 
  • Begin publicizing the event using various forms of media
  • Contact and set up housing with local hotels/motels-secure a group rate
  • Contact local train companies to secure a discount for attendees and presenters-which should be publicized in your press releases, tweets, on your Facebook page, and so on.

Month 3

  • Set up your draft festival schedule of events
  • Decide on and form the panels of presenters
  • Begin to put together a draft festival program 
  • Determine the signage and directional signs needed to encourage flow and contact a company to have them printed 
  • Secure volunteers and set up a working schedule for them, including those who are session moderators and facilitators
  • Continue contact with speakers, obtaining photos for the program, bios if needed, and so on
  • Apprise speakers of discounted housing and transportation information if needed 
  • Continue contact with vendors and exhibitors, drawing up a floor plan of the space designated for them
  • Continue contact with the site
  • Continue publicizing the event

Month 4

  • Continue working on the tasks stated in Month 3 making sure they become final versions, e.g.: the schedule and festival program
  • Determine audiovisual needs for each area of the festival
  • Order signage
  • Order t-shirts or buttons for the volunteers
  • Put together instructions for general volunteers as well as session facilitators and moderators to be given to them when they arrive
  • Once panels are definitely formed, contact the speakers on each one to apprise them of the logistics of the event for them: what panel they are on as well as where and when 
  • Contact individual presenters providing them with where and when they are speaking
  • Make sure book stock forms have been filled out and sent to the festival bookstore
  • Contact the keynote, if having one, with pertinent details for that event

Month 5

  • Put together presenter, vendor, and exhibitor packets given to them when they arrive
  • Have festival program printed 
  • Make sure all signage is ready
  • Confirm with all the presenters, vendors, and exhibitors
  • Visit the site again 
  • Continue publicizing the event on all forms of media
  • Confirm with volunteers
  • Confirm with the festival bookstore
  • Confirm with rental companies providing furniture and audiovisual equipment
  • Make sure each member of the planning committee knows his or her responsibilities the day of the festival
  • Print evaluations forms

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