ANST - A&S Experience & Formats

dennis grace amazing at
Tue Aug 5 09:31:09 PDT 1997

Aquilanne here.

Thank you Siobhan for your posting.

you write:
>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.....

That seems to be a fairly common consensus among quite a few folk here.

>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.

This may be one of the reasons why.

>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.

>From some postings I've seen, I'm assuming that research papers are now
required to be submitted some time before the actual A&S event, to give the
necessary time for adequate evaluation and feedback. Is this the case? I
sure would hope so; what you describe would definitely be a nightmare. I
have to say that if there is a requirement for research papers to be
submitted ahead of time (and if there isn't such a requirement yet, there
should be) and I found previously unsubmitted papers waiting to be judged at
the event, I would give them back, unjudged, with a note thanking the
entrant for their effort and to please submit them again next year in a
timely manner.

>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 would suggest a larger cadre of judges. This *is* an "educational" society
after all, so by golly, let's train us some judges.

>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.

That's the key. A basic requirement for standardized documentation was in
order here. Communication is necessary to minimize misunderstandings and
optimize contructive interchange.

> 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.

Unfortunately, there are buttheads in most every group. The behaviour you
describe is just not acceptable. Period. I don't blame you for feeling

>  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

If *she* had provided documentation and justification for her methods of
construction along with listing one or two reference sources, you would have
had ample information to base a set of constructive comments on.

>Which brings me to my next soapbox, judge abuse. >snip< 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.

I agree with you absolutely. I know there have been times when I've judged
when I would have rather been off BS-ing with friends or hiding in the car
and taking a nap ;->.  Which kinda leads into your next question:

>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?

Weelll, at the risk of being "that durned furener with furener ideas," let
me suggest some variation on Atenveldt's A&S system. I say "some variation"
because the system at present, in my opinion, needs a bit of revamping to
make it a bit more user friendly. However, there are some very solid
practices to be gleaned from it. One of the strong points of having a system
of standards is that people (entrants and judges) have an idea of what to
expect and have a structure within which to work and build on. Someone at
the Laurel circle at Coronation was asking for ideas in this area weren't
they? (Please forgive me for not remembering names and faces--those synapses
just don't function as consistently as I'd like them to.) I'd be glad to
share a copy of Atenveldt's A&S guidelines; maybe someother folk could get
hold of some guidelines from other kingdoms. We could throw 'em all in the
stew, toss in our own ideas, and see what floats.

I also like the idea of training judges so as to help ensure consistency in
expectations/scoring methods, and to encourage meaningful exchange with
entrants. As well, I like the idea of having all entrants attend a short
orientation meeting early on in the event to emphasize the service the
judges are providing, and encouraging entrants to ask judges any questions
they might have pertaining to their scores, comments, etc. This
orientation-type material might be part of an entrant's entry paperwork
packet or somesuch, maybe even published beforehand to help folk share the
same wavelength. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Still tickled that other people are willing to talk A&S stuff,


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