Many thanks to everyone for coming to Area 1 Festival Conference 23! I had a great time, and according to those of you who completed an evaluation after our event, so did you! What did you think of this year’s Festival? Here’s what the data says:
How did you like the shortened festival? A majority of you (59%) said that the length of the festival was “Just the right length” but then commented that it felt too rushed, and if given a choice, you’d opt for the longer festival (62% vs 43%)… with a few modifications. Many of you had great comments about why starting on Friday works better and some excellent suggestions for how we might improve things to make it better for everyone. We’re listening, and we will see what changes we can make to accommodate as many people as possible.
How did you like Worcester State University? While many of you really liked the Convenience, the Classrooms, and the Ringing Floor at WSU, there was an overall consensus that the Food could have been better. I think we have been spoiled by the amazing food we’ve had at UMass Amherst and the Univ. of Hartford. Many of you were less than satisfied with the walkability of the campus and the housing options. Even though this was the smallest campus where we’ve held Festival/Conference to date, finding the Student Center doors locked and having to walk up the hill after a full day of events was a bit too much. Overall, the majority of you (70+%) ranked WSU 1st in every category except food (UMass and UHartford tied for first place). WSU is certainly more cost effective, but the space on the ringing floor is limited, and they clearly have some growing pains to overcome in order to improve our overall experience.
Clinicians Emily Li and Matthew Compton received high marks and accolades from the vast majority of you. You especially appreciated how Emily helped ringers connect emotionally with the music and how she readily accepted feedback and adjusted her conducting style when requested. You appreciated Matthew’s sense of humor, his humility, and his energy that allowed us to create a stronger musical expression together.
What about the location for the Opening Concert? An overwhelming 92% of you either have no preference, or prefer to have the concert on the ringing floor so we can keep the costs down. The same was true for the Hotel question. Most of you prefer the camaraderie that the dorms allow for and appreciate that it helps keep the costs down. However, a few of you would prefer the option of an on or near campus hotel to dorm life if it is available (and close).
The ringing floor was smaller than we’ve had in the past, and many of you liked the intimacy, since we’ve been having a smaller turnout lately. Despite that, we still have the problem with ringers in the back rows feeling disconnected from the rest of the ensemble, and unfortunately that can’t be helped. Some groups will always end up in the back row, but we heard your feedback, and we’ll see what we can do to improve things in the future
Ringing Floor photos courtesy of Emily Li
Here are a few final, random thoughts to round out this report:
- I can’t believe I forgot to get a group picture on t-shirt day!
- Many thanks to Jeanine Vitale and Jim Stratton for documenting the weekend with some great photos.
- We forgot to ask about the photo booth, but from some of the candid photos I’ve seen, those who found their way up to the booth had a lot of fun. Many of you enjoyed the opportunity to get a photo with Margaret Shurcliff, who recently went on the road and welcomed attendees to the HMA National Seminar in Irving, TX. Kudos to Evie Sessions and Charles Arnold for pulling it all together!
- There were a few issues with the A/C, coffee supply, and special dietary options, etc. that I only learned about by reading your surveys. I apologize for not being available at the time to address these for you!
- If you think of ideas or suggestions for the next Festival conference, or want to speak with me directly about something that did not go as planned, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 408-799-4001. I want to hear from you so we can make FC2025 even better!
Thank you again for attending Area 1 FC23, and for providing us with valuable feedback so we can continue to improve future events.
– Lisa Arnold, FC23 Event Chair