To council

So, coming up with ideas and plans is all very well but in order to get an event on the calendar it needs to be approved by the local SCA group and advertised in their newsletter and elsewhere. To do that I need to fill out some paperwork which also includes making up a budget.

There are two main types of costs for SCA events: fixed costs and per/person costs. Most events have site fees, food, advertising, and event specific costs for ‘props’ plus extra charges for non-members and in this Kingdom there is a Kingdom levy which helps support the Kingdom’s costs.

Site fees can be fixed, per person or a mix thereof. In this case there are no site fees so that’s easy. There are also no food costs per se, in that there is no catering at my event. I don’t mind doing feasts and have run several successful feasts in the past, but they require a different kind of organisation and if I was to start planning one now, given that I’d still need to recruit a cook, I’d really be planning it for December or later. However there are going to be apples used as targets for the archery and possibly the games so I’d better allow for some of those.

So most of my costs are ‘props’ such as the golden apples, printing for poems and riddles for the bardic and other event specific items like prizes. Given that I have to create those in advance and they’re not really tied to the number of people attending I have to treat them as fixed costs – I toted it up and it came to almost spot on $100, which includes the 10% contingency that the group adds.

Fixed costs mean that you have to get a certain number of people through the door to break even. Which is always a concern. You end up with a balancing act – if you make the event more expensive then you don’t need as many people to attend to cover your costs, BUT the higher cost may put people off. If you keep the cost low you run the risk of not covering your costs and leaving the group out of pocket.

This is one of the reasons that you create a budget and proposal and present them to the local group – at the end of the day they are taking a risk on your judgement – if the event loses money that comes from the group’s funds, not yours.

The other question to consider is whether or not to charge children. Our group’s policy is half price for under 12s and free for under 5s. The Kingdom levy also only applies to persons over 18, which leaves the gate with 4 breakpoints to consider, which I think is a pain. My personal philosophy is that as most kids come with adults we should make it as easy/cheap for those family groups as possible. Also we don’t have huge numbers of teens in the group. So I’d as soon make an event free for all kids (under 18) and have more come along – which is viable for an event like this one, but not for all events of course.

So with a fixed cost of around $100 how many adults at how much do I need to come to my event to break even or make a small profit. I’d like to charge $5 – that’s including the $1 Kingdom levy – which would require 25 people to attend in order to meet my costs – surely not an unreasonable number in a  group of our size as 65 booked for Baronial Anniversary (March council minutes). I could be persuaded to charge more as that would make it a dirt cheap event, we will see what the council says on the matter.