DERT 2007: committee'd out
Organising DERT 2007

The biggest DERT has come and gone. If the event continues to grow in popularity as more and more teams discover the joys of Rapper, I wonder if it’s time to address the way we organise DERT and how some of the responsibilities might be shared? Having been on the Nottingham organising committee for the past 2 years (we had our first meeting in April 2005), I thought it might be useful to talk a little about the sheer enormity and diversity of preparations for the event.

Many reading this may have been involved in organising weekends of dance where their local side has hosted the event. There is considerable work involved in puttingon these weekends, such as:

  • Accommodation indoor camping, washing facilities
  • Evening venues
  • Entertainments licence, bars
  • Catering - evening meals, breakfasts
  • Security & car-parking
  • Risk assessment, health & safety
  • Transport – buses
  • Dance venues – pubs to liaise with and road-test
  • Publicity - website, posters, fliers, business cards, advertising, newspaper articles, TV, radio broadcasts
  • Finance & funding – sponsorship from local companies; local and national grant aid; bank account
  • Administration – processing booking forms, information updates, by post, phone, email; compiling dance tours and timetables; production of programme brochure
  • Merchandise & prizes
  • Job rotas and instructions for helpers
  • Photographers, film-makers
  • Hospitality for special guests and far-travelling teams

These are typically the activities involved in organising a large weekend of dance. DERT, however, because of its uniqueness and evolving nature, requires a great deal more. Amongst other things, we found ourselves involved in:

  • Selecting, contacting and briefing judges
  • Looking at/revising the judging criteria and marking schemes
  • Reviewing the Premier/Open divide mark
  • Discussions about whether to change the nature of the competition in any way – e.g. should there be a 3rd class for new teams and those that have not competed for a few years? Could we re-introduce a traditional category, and how?
  • Dealing with queries from teams – can they relegate themselves? Or appeal against the class they’ve been put in?
  • Whether and how we could accommodate a children’s team

My feeling is that the work involved in organising DERT falls loosely into 2 categories – one, the nuts and bolts of the local organising which should fall to the host team to facilitate DERT, and the other, the policy bits which should be the remit of a centralised body who are actively involved with the local host committee, but responsible for changes in competition rules, marking criteria, appointment of judges and scores invigilators. This centralised body could perhaps consist of the current DERT ‘parent’ consultants, plus a small no. of other people who have had previous experience in organising DERT. They could even have some responsibility for funding and finance. A central DERT account could be set up, into which all outstanding yearly profits are paid. Why not establish DERT as a sustainable project, one, which the National Lottery would recognise as needing ongoing grant aid which doesn’t require a new team to re-apply for funds for each year?

When DERT was smaller, it was easier for a team to take on the whole of the organisation. There is still room for local decisions and activities of course, but for consistency, and so that there is no risk of a host team making uncertain changes, I think the rules and regs. stuff, needs to be separated from the rest. Otherwise it is becoming too big a venture for a single team to undertake.

What do others think?

Having said that, I found the experience challenging and thoroughly enjoyable, albeit exhausting (and I’m still taking the tablets!)

Linda Hewing