Recently a friend told me of a project, an event she would have always wanted to organize, but it has so far been a long-cherished dream. “I really would like to be able to realize it one day, but I do not know where to start from, can you give me a hand?”
That’s the point: where should we start planning an event from?

The first thing to do is to imagine the structure, a synthesis in a few points describing the project to yourself before describing it to others.
So, it is important to tell the main points, but in a way that can already make you realize whether the idea is feasible or not, to determine who you need to engage in for its implementation, to clarify how you can finance the project.
I remember when I was attending the European Diploma in Cultural Project Management, many years ago, an annual master degree promoted by UNESCO and the Council of Europe. We were selected in 25 cultural project managers from all European countries, from Portugal to Russia, 25 colleagues with whom I spent the most beautiful time in my life. The master was a traveling course hosted in 7 countries and allowed the alternation between plenary study sessions and work breaks at home to prepare a European dimension project to be developed over the course of the year.
At the opening meeting, each of us had been asked to present the project we had in mind, a synthesis that made it possible to understand its importance and to verify the coherence between the objectives of the event and the strategies implemented to pursue them.
For this purpose we were provided with a form with the following paragraphs to be filled in:
1.    Mission statement (summary in no more than 5 sentences)
2.    Long-term objectives (up to 4) and short-term ones (up to 4)
3.    Strategies to achieve the goals
4.    Main sources of funding

In these four points is the whole project. Let’s briefly explain them.
1. The mission statement is the fundamental starting point because it lets us understand the measure of the relevance of the project, explaining how the event intends to affect the current situation and how it can improve it.
In the mission statement we sum up unsatisfied needs (eg demand from a certain market niche) to which we intend to respond, how we propose to meet these needs, what makes our proposal unique and distinct, how we will measure the success of the initiative.
Giving convincing content to this first point is all the more crucial the more you need funding (public contributions, sponsorships), and / or the more we need to find resources on the market, asking the participating audience to buy tickets or pay a stake Of registration.
However, even if we could fund the event with our means, the description of the mission statement is important because it gives us a basic line of orientation that will then be useful in project development. Indeed, the initiatives of banks and multinational foundations are also geared to meeting specific needs … So find the reasons why of your project and argue them properly!

2. Objectives: they derive from the premises set out in point 1 and relate to the needs to be met or to operational solutions to be implemented.
Long-term goals: these are related to the difficulties you encountered in the current situation that your project can help to give answers to; they are difficult to measure.
Short-term goals: they are very concrete and operational, the first things that have to be done. They must be measurable and reachable within a well-defined time span.

3. Strategies to realize the goals, that is what actions you will put in place to achieve the goals you have made. Since goals won’t materialize by themselves, you have to think of one or more actions aimed to achieve them. Here the magic word is consistency, that is, the logical connection between goal and strategy. Objectives not properly decoded in coherent actions will make the project unreliable.

4. Main sources of funding. At this point, you need to ask yourself what institutions can share the same goals you pursue, or can consider these goals interesting because falling into actual cultural policies or currently underway lines of action (and for this reason they can possibly have been considered in eventual published announcements); also ask yourself which sponsors may be interested in the values proposed by your project (excellence, innovation, etc.) and in the involved audiences; or will it be the audience that buying the ticket will fund the initiative? From the answers to these questions you will have some tips for your fundraising strategies (generally a mix of the mentioned sources).

So here’s how to start designing an event. With a two-page document, in a synthetic but effective way, you can explain yourself and your potential partners what’s in your mind and what is the logic that makes it feasible. An essential text to be considered however a work in progress that will be enriched gradually with the opinions of collaborators and partners, to finally reach its final definition.

The project I propose on the occasion mentioned above was about a European Festival of the Walled Cities. Do you want to see the presentation text I have written? It can be useful as an example. You will find it here (in Italian – you will need to login).

What aspect do you find it harder to process in the four above?
I look forward to your comments … Meanwhile, enjoy your project building process


Filippo M. Cailotto


P.S. This article is taken from my blog