Large-scale – Caerleon Open Weekend
Caerleon Open Weekend
Archaeologists from the University have been researching a site called Priory Field in Caerleon for the last five years, and wanted a chance to share their findings with local people.
Building on the success of previous ‘open days’ where visitors were offered guided tours of the dig site, the team decided to put on a major event for the public over the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2010. External experts demonstrated Roman crafts and cooking, there were tours of the dig led by students, and points where members of the public could see what had been dug up on site. There was even the opportunity to sift and wash finds coming out of the ground.
The event was a huge success and attracted 1600 people over three days. Key to that success, though, was having previously built up relationships and inspired an interest with exhibitors, local people and the local museums. Without that experience and those links, it would have been far more difficult and expensive to put together an event of this kind.
Small-scale – Picnics, receptions and signings
Picnics, receptions and signings
Be creative and keep an open mind as to how to engage with the public. One example of a smaller special event was the National Family Day picnic organised by the School of Psychology’s Child Development team. The event tied into a national awareness day, but built on that to include a programme of development-related activities for the families that attended. The real success of the day was that not only did the target audience attend and enjoy the event, they also learned something about the work of the team.
Other examples of special events might be receptions, informal talks, film-showings, book-signings – in fact anything that brings people together – but think carefully about what your aims are, and whether or not the format you choose is going to deliver them.