Event guidelines for venues
Children’s Books Ireland has twenty-five years of experience in programming and running events for children and adults with an interest in children’s books. Over the years we have gathered feedback from authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, publishers, booksellers, venue staff, programmers, parents and guardians and, most importantly, from children across the island, telling us what does and doesn’t work when it comes to staging events and activities for different age groups.
Using this information and experience as a starting point, we have suggested a few simple guidelines to help ensure your event runs smoothly. These guidelines will apply to live, digital and hybrid events. Further guidance for digital events specifically can be found within the Fees and Conditions Guidelines for Digital Events with Children document detailed at the end of this page. With any in-person or live event all public health guidelines must be considered.
Children’s Books Ireland works with authors, illustrators, poets, storytellers and facilitators who make work for children and young people, and for the purposes of this document we will refer to ‘the artist’ to include all of these.
Children’s Books Ireland aims for the highest standards and best practice in programming all events.
- We believe that children’s events deserve careful planning, execution and promotion and should be considered with as much care as events for adults.
- When welcoming any audience to an event, be it a young audience or those with additional needs, their interest level, comfort and enjoyment should be carefully considered.
- Artists whose work is aimed at young audiences should be remunerated fairly for the work they are being asked to do – this should take into account preparation time and how long it will take them to get to and from the event.
- Accommodation, travel and subsistence expenses should be provided for if necessary. If you will be providing meals, check whether the artist has any special requirements.
- For best practice principles on remuneration and contracting of artists, see the Arts Council’s Paying The Artist Policy and refer to the Fee and conditions guidelines for digital events with children detailed below.
Prior to the event
Booking an artist
Visit the artist’s website or social media platforms for information on their contact details. Some artists will wish to be contacted directly while others prefer queries to go via their agent or publisher.
a. Agree the fees with the artist in advance – this information should be transparent and clear when sending the initial invitation. Take into account any time the artist will need to spend preparing for the session and travelling to the venue. Fees for an online event should be commensurate to a similar event taking place in real life. Be clear on whether the fee includes VAT or not.
b. Agree whether other expenses will be covered, including travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses, and the method and timeline for payment.
c. Children’s Books Ireland promotes fair and equitable remuneration for artists. For guidance on fees, please see the guidelines below, or refer to the Fees and Conditions Guidelines for Digital Events with Children. Further information is available on the Words Ireland website including standard payments for events offered by literature organisations including Children’s Books Ireland.
a. Agree the format of the event. Will the artist be presenting, or would they prefer to be interviewed by someone? Will they be on a panel, and who will chair it? If you are engaging a chair or interviewer, ensure that they have access to the artist’s work/artists’ books and that they are put in direct contact with the artist at least a couple of weeks before the event so that they have the chance to run through the questions they will ask in advance. Chairs and interviewers should receive the same information as artists in relation to their fee and all other relevant event information.
b. Decide in advance the duration of the event and the size of the audience/venue capacity. Will there be questions from the audience, and at what point in the event?
c. Be sure to consult the artist about their preferred audience age, and state this in any promotional materials, so that the artist and the audience’s expectations are clear.
d. If you are asking the artist to do more than one event, be clear about timings and locations – will there be a break in between? Will refreshments be provided? Will someone accompany them from one venue to another or provide transportation if they are in different locations? Be aware that delivering events for young audiences can be demanding and not all artists may wish to do multiple events in a day.
a. Discuss with the artist whether any materials are required for them or the audience (paper and drawing materials, a flipchart, a laptop and projector etc.) and who will be providing them. The artist may want to bring their own supplies or they may expect you to provide them.
b. Test all audiovisual (AV) equipment – including laptops, projectors, remote clickers, speakers and microphones – in advance of the event and ensure that someone will be present at the event who can troubleshoot if there are issues.
c. If you wish to photograph or film the artist during the event, seek their permission in advance in writing, and let them know how these will be used. With regard to any video footage, agree a duration of use in advance, again in writing.
d. You may wish to contact a local bookseller to provide book sales before and after the event. Make the artist aware of this if they need to leave time post-event for book signing. Alternatively, if book sales are not going to be available on the day, make the artist aware of this.
It is good practice to email the artist an itinerary for the day(s) they will be visiting, including the following information:
- Event start time and location.
- Whether book signing will be included after the event and how long this will run for.
- Public transport and/or parking instructions and directions where needed.
- Information on food and refreshments provided.
- Contact name and mobile number for the staff member in charge of the event and any artist liaisons or volunteers who will be meeting them during their visit.
- Information about the audience numbers and ages.
- Run through of AV and materials requested.
- Who will be introducing them.
If the event is for a school audience:
- It is vital that the audience is the appropriate age for the event – too old or too young will spoil the session for everyone involved.
- Doing some preparation work can have a significant effect on a student’s level of engagement in the event. If at all possible, try to ensure that the audience has read some of the artist’s books in advance and done some research into the artist. Connect with your local library and check if block loans of the artist’s books are available.
- If books will be available to purchase at the event, make sure that the teacher and the audience are aware of this.
- Children’s Books Ireland Child Protection Policy states that it is ESSENTIAL to obtain written consent from parents/guardians if you wish to take photographs or video featuring children at an event. Early Childhood Ireland provides detailed information on what a consent form needs to include. Do not post any identifying photographs of children and young people on any social media platforms.
- For festivals, libraries, bookshops or venues working with school audiences where the event takes place outside of the school, the teacher in charge of the group should have access to your Child Protection Policy and Safeguarding Statement and have contact details for your Designated Liaison person. Further information relating to child safeguarding can be found on tusla.ie and the National Youth Council of Ireland. All event programmers must make themselves aware and informed of their own responsibilities in this regard and should have appropriate policies and procedures in place.
- If the event takes place in the school, ensure that everyone is clear whose Child Protection Policy is being adhered to and who the Designated Liaison Person is should a concern arise in relation to the event.
- For events outside the school, it is good practice for the programmer to set up a reminder call to the teacher the day before the event, especially if the school has never attended an event in the venue before. This helps avoid any last-minute confusion on the day. For schools inviting an artist directly, a call the day before will ensure that any last minute questions can be answered on both sides.
- If the audience includes children on the autism spectrum ensure that your venue has the appropriate considerations in place to cater for this audience in an inclusive way. Ensure that the artist is aware if members of the audience have additional needs, or if they may need to move around or make sounds during the event. More information is available from AsIAm.
If the event is for members of the public:
- Ensure that the text describing the event is clear about the age group it is appropriate for.
- If parents need to be in attendance with their children at the event, ensure they are made aware of this, as it will have an impact on audience capacity, as well as being a consideration for child safeguarding. Be clear about whether parents need to buy a ticket and whether there is an adult and child price.
- Send an email to attendees a day or two before the event to remind them of their booking and provide information on the venue and directions.
- It is essential to obtain written consent from parents/guardians if you wish to take photographs or video featuring children at an event.
- If the audience includes children on the autism spectrum ensure that your venue has the appropriate considerations in place to cater for this audience in an inclusive way. Ensure that the artist is aware if members of the audience have additional needs, or if they may need to move around or make sounds during the event. More information is available from Children’s Books Ireland and AsIAm.
- Ensure that another adult is always present with the artist for the duration of their visit. It is essential that a second adult (e.g. librarian, teacher, festival volunteer) must be present during the event at all times. Adhering to this policy protects the artist as well as children and young people. There may be occasions, particularly in schools when teachers are in class, when an artist is met by a child or young person who has been asked to take them to the location for the event. This should be avoided.
- Create a sense of occasion by creating a ‘welcome display’ featuring some of the visiting artist’s books, posters, etc. Publishers are often happy to provide posters and other promotional materials on request.
- Ensure that the staff at the school, bookshop, venue or library are aware that the artist is coming and that the event is taking place. It can be disheartening for an artist to be greeted by a receptionist, staff member, principal or teacher who has no idea who they are or why they are there.
- Make sure that the artist has time to get set up and prepared for the event before putting them in front of the audience. Ensure that they know how to use any technology they may need, that they have a glass of water and that they know where the bathrooms are. This may sound rudimentary, but the artist’s comfort will have a bearing on their and the audience’s enjoyment of the event.
- During school events, the students’ behaviour will be led by their teachers: if the teacher is engaged, the students will be more likely to engage. It should be the teacher’s responsibility to deal with any disciplinary issues that may arise.
- Take a few moments to introduce the artist at the beginning of the event and welcome them, and the audience, and let the audience know if there will be an opportunity to ask questions. This can also be a good opportunity to ask everyone to turn off their mobile phones, as well as any other health and safety information.
- At the end of the event, thank the artist and let the audience know if there will be book signings taking place.
- After the event, ask the adults and/or children in attendance to fill in a feedback form. If you are asking for their details, ensure that they know how these will be used and ask their consent if you plan to add them to a mailing list. Please feel free to copy the sample feedback form listed below.
- For a solo event with a maximum length of 2 hours (eg: author visit, illustrator workshop) the recommended fee is €250
- For a school, library or similar visit the recommended day rate is €400
- For a panellist's fee (2 or 3 per panel) the recommended fee is €150 to €200