2014 Survey of Demographics & Opinions

Meridies Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire Survey

Conducted May to July 2004

FINAL EDITION: KASF Study Report

Written by Mistresses Blodwen and Derbail

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Executive Summary

Blodwen and Derbail conducted the Meridies Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire Survey from May to July 2004. A total of 64 surveys were collected that included quantitative and qualitative data. Results were analyzed and tabulated numerically and with qualitative analysis. Overall, there were six narrative themes that emerged related to judging and entering the Faire. Most participants seemed satisfied with the current system, though several useful ideas surfaced from the data. A copy of the survey is included as an electronic PDF attachment along with this document.

I. Introduction

In recent years, the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Officer and the Laurels noticed that the Arts and Sciences Competitions in the Kingdom were suffering from a lack of attendance, a reduction in entries, complaints about judging, and difficulty with the 3-day weekend format on Memorial Day. After much discussion on this issue between the Laurels and the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Officer, it was decided to conduct a survey that might assess the opinions of the populace on these matters. Hence, this study.

II. Methods

A draft of the survey was written by Derbail, Blodwen, and Maysun, then circulated among the Laurels for comments. Final copies were prepared and disseminated in several ways, including hard copies available at the 2004 Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire, plus electronic copies sent to local A&S officers, various Meridian email discussion groups, and the Kingdom of Meridies web page. Blodwen and Derbail collected and tallied the surveys, sorting data both by a unique participant ID number and by each question. Surveys were checked for duplications, and duplicate data were removed. Analysis of numerical data was done with simple mathematics and represented by various types of tables and graphs. Narrative data were analyzed with the constant comparison method of qualitative research to find emergent themes in the data. Two Laurels with experience in working with social sciences data (Maysun and Anna Nicola) served as proofreaders for content and clarity, as did the KAS officer, Stephanie. The final tally of participants was 64, representing many areas of the Kingdom, both small groups and large. Although not all participants answered all questions (and some gave multiple answers to individual questions), this level of participation far exceeded the expectations of the authors.

III. Numerical Data

A total of 64 surveys were received and compiled. Table 1 shows the distribution of surveys across the Kingdom; Section 1a represents specific groups in Meridies, Section1b represents specific groups in the Principality of Gleann Abhann, and Section 1c represents general membership in Meridies, Gleann Abhann, or another group. Graph 1 contains a pie chart which shows the basic distribution of surveys between Meridies and Gleann Abhann.

Table 1: Number of Surveys Received by SCA Group

Section 1a: MERIDIES PROPER

Group Name

No. Surveys

  Group Name

No. Surveys

An dun Theine

1

Marion Glen

0

Arenal

0

Nant-Y-Derwyddon

2

Beau Fort

1

Osprey

2

Brantestone

0

Owl’s Nest

1

Bryn Madoc

3

Phoenix Glade

0

Camden Tor

1

Pregrine

1

Canton Des Forge

0

Ravenwood

0

Crimson River

1

Rising Stone

2

Delvingrim

0

Rivermarch

0

Drakenford

3

Salt Keep

0

Eagle

0

Sol Haven

1

Easaraigh

2

South Downs

9

Forth Castle

1

Tal Mere

2

Glaedenfeld

2

Thorngill

1

Glynn Rhe

1

Thor’s Mountain

5

Iron Mountain

1

Tir Briste

0

Loch Cairn

0

Viridian Fjord

0

Loch An Fhraoich

2

Vulpine Reach

1

Total:

46

 

Section 1b: GLEANN ABHANN

Group Name

No. Surveys

  Group Name

No. Surveys

Ardanroe

1

Loch Bais

0

Axemoor

2

Northover

1

Beinntheine

0

Redewolf

0

Blackmoor Keep

1

Rooks Haven

0

Blackwood

0

Seleone

1

Dragoun’s Weal

0

Small Grey Bear

1

Duin nan Aibhne Dheirg

0

Smythkepe

1

Eagle Isle

0

Tor an Riogh

1

Grey Niche

2

Troll Fen

0

Hammerhold

0

Vogelburg

0

Iron Ox

0

Wyrmgeist

1

Lagerdamm

0

Total:

12

 

Section 1c: MISC. GROUPS

Group Name

No. Surveys

   

 

Atlantia

2

Greater Gleann Abhann

1

Greater Meridies

3

Total:

6

 

 

 

 

Grand Total:

64

 

Graph 1

Respondents represented an extremely wide array of interest in the arts and sciences. Table 2 shows a breakdown of major areas; Graph 2 contains a pie chart illustrating this information.

Table 2: A&S Areas of Participants

Brewing and Vinting

3

Calligraphy

8

Carving

2

Ceramics

1

Cooking

11

Costume Accessories

5

Costuming

17

Creative Writing

6

Embroidery

9

Fine Arts

1

Heraldic Arts

4

Horticulture/Animal Husbandry

6

Illumination

14

Jewelry/Casting

5

Leatherwork

5

Non-European Arts

5

Performing Arts

23

Printing

4

Research Papers

14

Stained Glass

1

Technology

4

Textiles

14

Woodworking

5

Graph 2

Most respondents were not apprentices or Laurels (see Tables 3 and 4). A large majority (94%) had attended a KASF (Kingdom Arts and Sciences Faire), and of those, 50% had attended at least five KASF events (see Tables 5 and 6). A majority had not judged at KASF, but many of those who had previously judged had done so a number of times (see Tables 7 and 8). Of those who had attended, a large majority (77%) had entered at least one KASF.

Table 3
Table 4
Table 5
Table 6
Table 7
Table 8
Table 9

Question 6 of the survey used a Likert scale and asked participants to rate their responses across five areas (knowledge of how to document an entry, knowledge of entry requirements, opinion on the constructiveness of judges’ feedback, whether or not they have used the constructive criticism given, and their opinion on whether judging was too critical. Table 10, sections a through e, summarize these data.

Lickert Scale: Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree.

Table 10, section a
Table 10, section b
Table 10, section c
Table 10, section d
Table 10, section e

As the tables show, a large portion of the participants indicated they understood the entry requirements and how to document an entry. By answering that they strongly agreed or agreed, 53% noted that they felt the feedback they had received was constructive, and by the same criteria, 69% used that feedback to improve their work. Only 16% felt the feedback received was not constructive, answering disagree or strongly disagree, and only 7% had not used the feedback given by the same criteria. Only 28% either strongly agreed or agreed that the judging was too critical; 40% disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement.


IV. Key Narrative Themes

In analysis of narrative data, several key themes emerged. These included data on attendance at Kingdom A&S, reasons for entering or not entering in the competitions, thoughts on judges and judging, and the purposes of faires at various levels.

A. Attending and Entering Kingdom A&S

A large portion of respondents had attended Kingdom A&S (94%), and many had also been entrants in the faire (76%). Those who had chosen not to enter cited a variety of reasons for not doing so; these included insecurity about entering, feeling that their item or performance was not of good enough quality to enter, not feeling ready to enter, and preferring non-competitive venues to make presentations. Other reasons for not entering included mundane conflicts, travel difficulties, and a perception that entries were “bashed” by judges or overly criticized for no specific reason.

B. Perceptions of Judges and Judging

In offering comments on judges and judging, participants tended to focus more on the process than the person . In other words, they referenced the experience of judging far more than addressing the nature of specific judges. Numerous comments were quite positive, using words such as [the judging was] very well done, fair, constructive, reasonable, focused on helping people improve, and enlightening. Negative comments on judging included terms such as [the judging was] inconsistent, uninformed, subjective, confusing, strict, too politically correct (perhaps implying that judges made comments based on who people were in terms of status), harsh, unconstructive, nitpicking, and haphazard. If participants talked about the characteristics of judges, they either referred to individuals as unqualified or opinionated in a negative sense, or positive or encouraging in an affirmative sense. Some comments related to concerns about documentation not being properly read and examined by judges. One participant noted that some judges seemed to focus too much on the level of research involved in an entry, rather than the entry itself.

C. The Purposes of KASF and Regional Faires

In addressing the purpose of KASF, comments fell into two perspectives: the external view from judges and non-entrants, and the internal view from actual competitors in the faire. The external view focused around a main idea, that KASF was the place to show off the best and most diverse work of the Kingdom and thus increase awareness of the status of arts and sciences and educate the populace. Related responses included the opinions that KASF was a place to share research and ideas, determine an A&S champion, become inspired, have something to do besides fighting, and have a good time. Entrants who responded to the survey agreed it was the best place for the finest artisans of the Kingdom to come together, but they also said KASF was where the Laurels had the best opportunity to see talent. Some entrants saw KASF as a chance to pursue excellence, acquire constructive criticism, and learn the best way to make an entry well rounded.

Comments related to regional faires mostly tended to focus on the idea that regional faires were the best place to “practice” before KASF; the concept of regional faires being “stepping stones” or “testing grounds” was prevalent. Regional faires, in the participants’ words, provided a venue for gaining critiques and polishing a project before KASF. However, a number of comments also suggested that regional faires were good places for more novice entrants and for showcasing regional talent, especially if an entrant could not travel to KASF. One participant stressed that regional faires should not be a prerequisite for entering KASF.

D. The Format of KASF

Participants who offered comments on this question had a very wide range of ideas, though in the numerical section of the survey, 48% preferred the current system of a regular weekend, with all activities on one day (see Table 11). Other suggested permutations included: a two-day regular weekend, with performing arts one day, static the other; an Artisan’s Row venue, with artisans standing at their workshop and defending their work; at least a portion of performing arts at feast; a three-day weekend; and two separate two-day weekends (one for static, one for performing arts). One participant wanted to avoid mundane holidays, and another suggested a “display only” option for KASF.

E. Comments Related to Entrants

Several participants commented on the attributes and needs of the entrants themselves. They discussed how some entrants, from a judge’s perspective, were too sensitive to criticism and expected the “wrong” thing from the faire (i.e., to get compliments and praise rather than constructive critiques). Moreover, several comments suggested that entrants should be encouraged to shadow judge and should make better preparations for the fair experience (i.e., reading the judging sheet beforehand, reading the category standards, discuss the entry with a judge before entering, and perhaps enter in a regional faire first). Another idea would be for entrants who do not wish to compete to be made aware of the “display only/comment only” category as another option.

F. Additional Comments

Survey participants had an opportunity to offer general ideas, and a large portion of them gave additional comments. These narratives tended to fall in three broad subject areas: interactions between judges, the Laurels, and entrants; changes that should be implemented within the judging process; and general suggestions for improving KASF.

The biggest request regarding interaction between judges, the Laurels, and entrants centered on improving communication in all directions. Survey participants wanted more Laurels to interact with the populace, especially in smaller groups throughout the Kingdom. They also requested that classes and other educational activities be in put in place that would teach judges how to give constructive criticism and entrants how to properly prepare for KASF; more shadow judging, for example, seemed desirable.

With regards to changing the judging process, several participants requested an appeal or grievance system for those occasions when entrants feel they have not been judged fairly. A number of participants also suggested rewriting the judging forms to be less generic and more specific to each category. Additional ideas included lessening the competition aspect of KASF, having entrants stand with entry and present it in persona, having the entrant readily available if the judges are confused or have questions, and eliminating the “oh wow” points

Finally, participants had a few general suggestions. Some proposed having KASF at a site that was not “primitive.” Others wanted more time for the populace to view entries and additional activities for those not entering KASF, such as classes.

Table 11

V. Conclusions and Recommendations

The participants in this study represented an extremely wide array of experience and interests in the arts and sciences. Many had entered KASF and a large portion had also served as judges. While the narrative data suggest that participants were displeased with the process of judging and some aspects of how the faire has been conducted, the numerical responses show that most participants were satisfied with the current system and how various portions of the faire have been handled. Moreover, most were also content with the current event structure, having all entries and judging on a Saturday within a regular weekend event. The authors of this paper did find a number of participants’ suggestions interesting and possibly useful to the Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences (KMOAS), as follows:

    • Implementing a grievance system
    • Having classes at RUM or other forums on how to judge and how to enter
    • Providing opportunities for shadow judging to those wishing to become judges
    • Offering additional, non-martial activities at KASF, such as hands-on classes
    • Giving entrants a chance to explain any unclear points or answer questions before judging is completed
    • Having winners in performing arts display their talents during feast
    • Creating a venue for “display and/or comment only” entries
    • Assuring that judges only judge within their areas of expertise, inasmuch as possible
    • Giving prizes or generous recognition to the overall winners (much like the victor of a large tournament would win a prize)
    • Rotating the venue of KASF to various parts of the Kingdom of Meridies

We recommend that these points be seriously considered and/or addressed by the Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences, with the input of the Laurels’ Circle and Their Majesties.