Friday, 18 October 2019

Symposium survey results (and the Peacock Party)

Thank you to everyone who filled in my survey.  I received 111 responses which certainly exceeded my expectations.

The best news is that everyone was very pleased with their tutors.  The Symposium committee did a great job of selecting skilled tutors who taught inspiring classes.

Our excellent tutor, Margaret Sampson George third from left

The New Zealand Quilt Symposium model is a unique model in quilting these days.  A group of volunteers offer to run:
- five days of classes with national and international tutors
- an exhibition showcasing the best of New Zealand quilting
- a Merchants Mall with at least 20 different retailers present for all six days
- lunch time lectures and trunk shows from the international tutors
- an opening ceremony and prize giving
- a gala dinner (with entertainment) for at least 300 people
- a closing ceremony
- happy hours after classes (drinks)
- accommodation services for tutors and some participants
and the list goes on...........

It's a huge undertaking, and I'm very grateful to the Auckland symposium committee for organising this event.

Personally, I think it's time to revisit this model and engage professional event managers to run our national quilting event, but I seem to be in the minority.  Maybe I'm ahead of the times, but as long as people keep volunteering, it will keep being run by volunteers.

Anyway, time for the survey results.  Remember, these graphs don't cover everyone who attended, just those who answered the survey, but with 111 responses, I think this data is fairly representative.

I received quite a few comments about the hostel accommodation.  Although it must have been handy to stay on site, there were multiple access issues with people being locked out of their rooms, and locked out of the school grounds.  Is it essential for symposium to provide hostel accommodation? I don't see it as a core part of symposium. 

With 70% of respondents attending with a friend, maybe people could share motels in future rather than staying in a hostel on site.

Wow! 88% of attendees are aged 50 or more.  57% of attendees are aged 60 or more.
I'm still pondering on this information, and what it might mean for the future of quilting in NZ.  Does it just mean that we wait until our kids are a bit older and we have more spare time and money before we get into quilting?

I find this result a bit disappointing! I thought that a lot more people would have had quilts hanging in the exhibition.  I know symposium conditions can seem limiting, but I do hope you all enter local shows.  80% of respondents said they belong to a guild, and 46% said they belong to Aotearoa Quilters.  So please do enter your local shows and let others see your quilts.

As for what we did at Symposium? The Merchants' Mall was the clear winner.  Everyone likes to shop when they go to a quilting event. Some people live in quite remote parts of NZ and don't have a local quilt shop, so they had a good excuse to shop.  Many tutors recommended their favourite tools, so lots of us bought new scissors, needles, threads etc.  Thank you to all the vendors who had stalls at symposium.

Most of us spent less than $500, but some people either bought a whole lot of little things, or they ordered a new sewing machine while they were at symposium.  Congratulations!!

some of my shopping

So, that's a high level summary of the survey results.  I gave people the option of leaving a comment at the end of the survey, and I have read them all, but I'll just summarise some recurrent themes here:

- don't mess with our morning tea!!!!
I know it's a particularly NZ thing, but we like a break for morning and afternoon tea.  Productivity rises after we've had a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit.
If you say "morning tea" that means a snack is included.  If you just say "tea and coffee is provided", we know to bring our own snacks.
I understand a late decision was made to cancel the snacks and save on costs, but if the committee had just sent out an email, we would have known to bring our own snacks, or biscuits to share.

- gala dinner
The gala dinner was a great evening with good food and wonderful entertainment.  It was a lovely surprise to have the Topp Twins entertain us. 

- venue
There were quite a few issues raised about the venue.
The area for happy hour was way too cramped and meant that the purpose of happy hour (sharing what you'd learnt or worked on that day), was lost.
The area for the exhibitions was also cramped.  I know the committee did their very best, but unfortunately it was difficult to appreciate the beauty of many of the quilts in a classroom situation.
There was no large area to sit and eat lunch and meet new people.

There were other points raised too, but I don't want to turn this into a list of everything that could have been done differently.  The event was run by volunteers, and they gave up a huge amount of their time to make it the very best that they could. We all appreciate that.

As for the next symposium, Rose City Quilters in Palmerston North are running a mini symposium from 1-4 October 2020 in Palmerston North.  You can register now and secure a registration number which determines the order in which class placements are allocated.  Click here for their website.

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  What have you been up to while I've been busy analysing survey results?  Feel free to link up a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


Gretchen Weaver said...

WOW! I'm impressed, this whole quilt thingy was organized and run by volunteers?! I had assumed it was put on by one of the big quilting organizations. Sounds like it would have been a wonderful event to have attended. If I ever make it to NZ, I'll make sure I visit in October. Have a lovely week with lots of happy stitching!

FlourishingPalms said...

I think it's wonderful that you went to all the effort to prepare and compile this survey! It's great information, Wendy, and in a way, I'm very surprised that the Symposium didn't organize a survey themselves. Will you share the information with them? Good on you for all your work! And as always, thank you for hosting the Peacock Party.

Rachel Ratten said...

Thank you for this survey, I found it really interesting! I didn’t attend symposium but did submit an exhibition quilt. Was there a best of show, merit prizes etc? I have not seen any evidence of prize winners or who judged them anywhere on the Facebook page or website....if you could point me in the right direction that would be fab. I am also a member of Aotearoa Quilters, but haven’t seen anything there either

Anne / Springleaf Studios said...

Interesting to see you survey. While there are several young quilters in my local modern guild, there are a few more that are older/retirement age. I do think it has to do with older quilters having more time than the younger group. Hope to link up next week as I missed this one.

RosieJ said...

Hi, great survey and I agree with your comments. I wish you had made the suggestion re event manager yesterday. I’m not surprised by the age range. It’s apparent at Guild meetings. It also adds a dimension to organising a national symposium that needs to be factored in.