Plan Yours!

Sometimes, it’s the planning that can overwhelm a project like this. What’s great is that there are so many people out there who are working on this kind of event that like to make lists. Recently, Claudia Holt of FEAST Minneapolis sent me this great check list. It’s so great that I think it should be shared. So, if you’re in the planning stages, here’s a lot to think about:


  • What facilities are available at the venue? Kitchen? Equipment?  Dishes/utensils?
  • How many people do we plan to serve? (note- our attendance has been closely related to the number of proposals we’ve received.)
  • What is our budget for food?
  • What’s on the menu?
  • Who is developing the recipes? Do the recipes need to be tested or scaled?
  • Can we get any food – prepared food or ingredients – donated?
  • Who is doing the grocery shopping?
  • Where are we getting the groceries?
  • How strict are we going to be about serving local and/or organic food? (I actually think about this one a lot.)
  • Are there adequate vegetarian/vegan/gluten free options? (sometimes there are, sometimes there aren’t)
  • How much of the food can we make ahead of time?
  • Do we have access to a kitchen ahead of time?
  • Can we store food ahead of time?
  • What’s our timeline the day of the event?
  • Who’s bringing the beer/wine so we can drink while we cook? (This is essential to the success of the event)
  • Do we need to bring in any equipment?
  • How will the food be served?
  • Do we have sufficient serving dishes/utensils?
  • How will we keep things hot/cold?
  • Self-serve or lunch lady style? (If you’re worried about running out of food, I recommend lunch-lady style for portion control. Also, it’s nice to have people there explaining what things are.)
  • How will we label everything?
  • Is there enough space for everyone to eat?
  • How many volunteers do we need?
  • What are we going to do about leftovers?
  • How will we deal with trash/recycling/compost?
  • What’s the beverage situation?
  • What happens when people are finished eating?
  • How will we handle cleanup? (lots of people are willing to help at the beginning, but once everyone’s had a few beers it can be hard to get people to help clean up)


  • Do we need to pay for the venue?
  • How are we advertising the event?
  • How are we communicating with artists who have submitted proposals before the event?
  • When can we get into the space?
  • What are the volunteer roles? (so when people show up wanting to help we have things for them to do)
  • When do volunteers need to arrive? (different tasks might need to arrive at different times)
  • What kind of signage do we need? (lack of signage is one of my pet peeves at events. The better your signage the less time you’ll spend answering questions)
  • What’s the best room setup?
  • Who is managing the door?
  • Do we need to check IDs?
  • How much change do we need?
  • What is the suggested donation?
  • Can we take checks or credit cards? (there’s an iphone app for taking credit cards if you want to go that route)
  • What are our AV needs?
  • Who is MCing the event?
  • Will there be entertainment?
  • Do the artists have AV needs?
  • How will we identify artists at the event?
  • How are we presenting the proposals at the event?
  • How will we identify volunteers?
  • Who is in charge of volunteers?
  • How big of a grant do we want to give?
  • How much should we try to save to fund the next event?
  • Can we afford to give more than one grant?
  • How are we paying the artist?
  • What time do we have to be out?
  • How are we reimbursing everyone?


  • Will we do anything to curate the proposals before the event or will all proposals be presented?
  • How will we keep artists accountable for actually doing their projects? (This bit us in the ass after our first event. Our winner never did the project and it reflected really poorly on us)
  • How are we reaching out to diverse communities?
  • How are we collecting input from artists and attendees after the event to make improvements?
  • Do we want to become a registered non-profit? Do we want to explore fiscal agency?
  • What is our organizational structure?
  • How often should we be meeting as a committee?
  • What are our mission and vision statements? Do we need mission and vision statements?
  • What kind of partnerships can we create to make this event more sustainable?
  • What relationships do we already have that can be used to strengthen the event?
  • Do we have a succession plan if key board members can’t be involved anymore?
  • How are we recruiting and managing volunteers?
  • How are we managing social media?
  • What should we be doing during the time between events?
  • How do we keep our messaging consistent when there are so many people involved?
  • Do we need to think about taxes/insurance/legal issues?

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