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Will It Be Alright On the Night?

Michael Molloy

After months or years of careful planning it's easy for a convention to fail because of lack of organisation on the day: there are never enough people able or willing to help set up and take down, and in practise it is only committee members that can (usually) be relied on to work the hours necessary to keep the con going. There's various aspects to running a con on the day and this worthy publication has addressed itself to many of them. The running of a con often revolves around rotas of volunteers doing jobs that are often boring and thankless. People do volunteer, lots of them, but they attend to have fun and are thus not always available where and when you might want them. The concept of the Duty Committee Member (DCM) is simply a rota ensuring that a committee member will always be available to respond to problems as they arise.

The DCM should work short shifts (but not too short, say 3-4 hours) on a rota ensuring nobody is on duty more than a few times over the weekend. The DCM must have either a bleep or radio to allow them to be contacted quickly. (The secure storage key holder should also have a bleep.)

The duties of the Duty Committee Member are as follows:

  1. The DCM will be the minimum representation of the committee at any time during the convention.
  2. The DCM may have to make decisions on all aspects of the convention, but only where absolutely necessary and where a decision cannot be a) Delayed b) Referred to the appropriate committee member c) Referred to the whole committee.
    Notes: The DCM should be in a position to know where the rest of the committee are. If decisions have to be made by the DCM there is a considerable chance that such will be considered wrong by all or part of the committee - but it is better from the point of view of members/hotel for someone to be seen to be in charge. The DCM should maintain a log of all decisions and problems which is passed on to the next DCM.
  3. Where the DCM has to make a decision it should where possible concur with previously agreed committee policy or discussion and, when known, the wishes, and even prejudices, of the person in charge of that particular element of the convention.
  4. The DCM is NOT in charge of setting up any part of the convention or for the organisation of gophers to set up. This is carried out by the person in charge of that part of the con. By keeping an overall perspective on the con the DCM should be aware of the location of possible help/gophers.
  5. The DCM should visit each part of the con at least once an hour to keep tabs on what is happening, checking membership badges as they go.
  6. The DCM should monitor the timing and running of all events and take remedial action if the item is not running as per the current programme - primarily by chasing up the person in charge of that programme item. The DCM must also ensure that all changes in the programme are brought to the attention of the members.
  7. The DCM must be available at all times throughout their duty period i.e. they cannot leave the hotel, appear on panels, get drunk.
  8. If the hotel has a problem involving members or vice versa the DCM should be contacted and should act as a buffer. (This may be written into the hotel contract as a safeguard against unfair accusations of damage etc.) If necessary the DCM should organise the ejection of non-members or disruptive members.
  9. In the event of an accident/disturbance/theft the DCM should be in attendance and should see that aid has been summoned then 1) Write down the circumstances of the incident. 2) Note the persons involved. 3) Note any material lost or damaged. 4) If it is a major problem, summon another committee member to act as witness.
  10. The DCM should act as the method of communication between committee members, and make sure they are kept aware of developments. In addition there should be a committee meeting every day to discuss problems/make decisions.

The Key Holder has the keys to any secure storage used by the con. The KH should a) Provide backup for the DCM if required b) Supervise anyone in the secure store who is not a committee member. (The person may be totally trustworthy but not feel able to query another person unknown to them who comes in and takes equipment.)

Having a DCM should ensure a smoother running convention for committee, hotel and members - so it can't be bad!


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This page updated on 09 July 1999