How to Organise a Workshop

Workshops provide your customers with a unique personal experience that is difficult to replicate in an online tutorial.
 
The following is a general outline of the steps needed to accomplish a successful workshop:
 
1. Decide where (if it is not in your shop) and when (start with approximate time of year). This step could be taken as early as 1 ½ years before the actual workshop, depending on the teacher selected and her or his popularity and reputation. Usually one year is ample time. Local teachers are generally more flexible and could be contacted closer to the desired date of the workshop.
 
2. Find a teacher if you don’t already have one in mind or it is not you who will act as teacher. This can be done through the Quilters Guild Teachers’ list; quilters’ experiences at conferences and contact with teachers there; and quilt magazines etc.
 
3. A letter or email should go out to the teacher (or teachers) you have in mind stating the approximate dates you want, and asking for a complete resume with references and fee schedule from them. After you have all the information, select the course(s) you want and notify the teacher of your choice(s). Usually the teacher will then send the supply lists. Most teachers will also send details on their transportation/mileage arrangements.
 
Contact with the teacher should continue up to a couple of days before the class, to give final numbers and reconfirm the arrangements
 
4. It is important now to find a location which will be suitable for the workshop. Attention should be paid to the following details.
 
Room Specifications

- Make sure the lighting is suitable for close work etc.
- Make sure there are adequate “plug in” if sewing machines are to be used. Also, make sure electrical supply is adequate for the irons which draw excessive power.
- Make sure the room will accommodate the number specified by the teacher and that each person will have enough work and sewing room if that is required. Each participant should have a chair to sit on and it should be in good condition, and her/his own table. 
 
Some examples of locations used in the past are community centres, hotels, school rooms on weekends, church basements (watch lighting here) etc. Easy accessibility for people carrying equipment and sewing machines is important. Some thought towards access for handicapped and/or elderly quilters is advisable. The facility should have room for lunch or at least water for coffee. In a non-hotel situation participants could bring their own bag lunch or pot luck etc.
 
5. Make a budget which should include the following:
- Teacher Fee
- Taxi fares
- Teacher meals
- Cost of location selected – room, lunch coffee breaks
- Advertising if required i.e.: posters, write up of workshop
- Photocopy costs, telephone long distance calls, postage

To arrive at a fee charge per student:

Add up all the expected costs and divide by the maximum number of attendees the teacher will have in the class. If you have any doubt about the class filling – use less than maximum number for budgeting i.e. instead of the max. of 20 students use 15 for budgeting. This may result in extra funds if the class fills but it will help to prevent the workshop costing you money! Remember you do not want to have to pay any deficit out of your own pocket!! It is best if you do not require a full class to pay the expenses just in case it does not fill.
 
This will give you an idea of how much the workshop will cost each person. Remember to round figures off a little to cover any incidentals that might come up after the workshop is advertised.
 
6. Advertising can be done very inexpensively through your Guild newsletter or at your stores with a poster or something similar to publicize this, local newspapers will run “free” community announcements, and probably the quickest is to tell two quilting friends and encourage them to tell two more.
 
7. Collect money and issue receipts – can be just the cash receipt books that are available in most drugstores and stationary stores. It is important to keep a class list and receipt of the money. Issue class requirements/supply lists after participant pays for the class, and do not give refunds. Instead they have to sell their place to someone else if they are unable to attend, and if a waiting list is kept you could put them in contact with someone on it to fill their spot.
 
Organizing a workshop is an easy task as long as you think through all possibilities and keep yourself organized. This is a wonderful experience and should be fun for all!
 
Good Luck with your Workshop.