ANST - A&S Experience & Formats

Mjccmc01 at Mjccmc01 at
Tue Aug 5 07:12:23 PDT 1997

Siobhan here.

Let me state at the outset that I hate A&S competitions.  There has got to be
a better way to encourage/assist artists that involves less heartache, both
for judges and entrants.  However, I've never been able to come up with one,
and the Laurel Prize Tourney idea seems to me to be the least objectionable.
 Understanding that this is how I feel about the subject in general.....

Aquilanne, the reason you probably aren't familiar with the "structure" of
A&S competitions here is that there isn't one, as far as I've been able to
discern in the 4 years I've been here.

I am in total agreement that the most valuable form of judging feedback is
comments, and I always try to write extensive ballots.  However, situations
frequently conspire against it.  At my first Kingdom A&S in Ansteorra, I was
appointed to judge research papers.  They were not submitted ahead of time,
and I arrived on site at 10:00 a.m. with 30-plus research plus research
papers to evaluate by 4:30 p.m.  Granted, teaching freshman comp and soph lit
made me able to move papers pretty quickly, but research papers on multiple
subjects take a lot more time to plough through.  I tried, I really, really,
tried, to give good feedback, but I have no idea how much sense I was making
by 3:15.

Some areas of endeavor (costume comes to mind) are huge categories at a
kingdom level, and sometimes there just isn't enough time to give the kind of
commentary I would like.

I don't necessarily want an outline of an individual's artistic/SCA career,
but one incident comes to mind.  I once judged an Elizabethan costume with a
bodice cut I had never seen, and no documentation was provided.  As I had
absolutely no idea of how long the entrant had been working with Elizabethan
clothing, I went with the assumption that she was relatively new to the
field, and wrote what I thought was a gentle, constructive commentary.  I
advised on the ballot that I was unfamiliar with the bodice construction, and
suggested that the Great God Janet Arnold was someone she might find helpful
to get pattern drafting ideas.  Well, did I catch it.  That evening at feast,
a most upset lady sought me out, explained that she had been doing
Elizabethan costuming for most of her SCA life, and how dare treat her as so
inexperienced and refer her to Janet Arnold, who she knew like the back of
her hand.  She further explained that the bodice cut was one of her own
devising, because she "didn't like" any of the period ones.  I'm serious;
this woman actually yelled at me during a feast.  If I had known that she had
an extensive background in Elizabethan costuming, I probably wouldn't have
referred her to the Janet Arnold book, which she evidently found very
patronizing.  (This was not in this Kingdom, BTW, for those of you trying to
figure out who this is.)

Which brings me to my next soapbox, judge abuse.  I am, of course, in
complete agreement with Aquilanne about the privileges and responsibilities
of judges, and we've all heard far too many instances of entrants being
treated abominably.  On the other hand, it's easy to forget that judges are
volunteering their time too, there is probably something else they would
rather be doing, and their feelings are hurt by rude comments, as well.  If
you don't agree with a judge's evaluation, that's your right and privilege;
not having any appreciation for the time they've invested in the evaluation
and treating them shabbily is not.

So, what are some alternatives to the way we do things now?  There has just
got to be a way, in a Society of civilized men and women, to have an artistic
dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual respect, but I don't believe that our
present system of "competition" provides the best environment.

Ideas? Suggestions? Innovations?

Eager awaiting suggestions to a problem that has plagued her for more than a
decade, I am,



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