Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

Grace curation - practical guidelines

[These notes were written as a guide for the person tasked with leading a small team to pull together a Grace event - we call this role curation]

1. Facilitation of planning meetings

We usually have two planning meetings set aside for planning a service. Sometimes it is less if it is a simple structure. The first meeting is usually a free flowing brainstorm, drawing out ideas and inspiration for the theme. The second one is the time when the ideas are knocked into shape for a service and responsibilities delegated for the various components. The role of curator is to chair both of these meetings and keep them focused and on track. It is also worth doing some thinking for both ahead of time to have things to throw in to the mix for the first meeting and maybe some notions or ideas of how this might take shape before the second. Part of the meeting role is either taking notes on the discussion and order of service or asking someone else to and then emailing them round the group.

2. Reflection on emerging direction and content between meetings

After the brainstorm sometimes there is a clear idea for a service that is going to be easy to pull together. But other times the discussion may not have produced too many concrete ideas. In the latter case the curator should take the initiative to think what might help nudge the process on a bit before the second meeting. This could be emailing round some thoughts for discussion before the second meeting. Or it might be finding a few new ideas to throw into the mix, or suggesting a liturgical framework or an idea of a genre of service using stations, a café format and so on.

3. Ensuring distillation of service order

It is crucial that by the end of the second meeting there is an order of service with names allocated for tasks. This must be circulated soon after the meeting. As curator it is your role to fill the gaps - the order is sometimes less than complete!

4. Ensuring allocation of tasks

There are several areas of tasks.

Tasks for the service order - hopefully most tasks for producing art/stations/prayers/liturgy/video etc will have been agreed at the second planning meeting. But it may be that there were gaps and you need to ensure that those gaps are filled. This may include asking people who were not present at the meeting.

Audio - somebody needs to be at Grace who knows how to run the sound. Your role as curator is to check that someone is there who can set this up (assuming there is audio required). You will also need to check that the music or songs required are able to be sourced.

Visual - This might involve drapes, slide projectors, TVs, data projectors, video mixer, laptops. These aren't all necessary but your role as curator is to help decide which of these are required and how they will be used in the space and who will set them up and run them.

Cafe - ensure that some one has agreed to get food for the cafe and set it up and run it (assuming there is to be one).

Welcoming people - this is something that sometimes gets overlooked especially if setting up gets behind and there is a general sense of panic. But it is important that you ask someone to welcome people at the door. And if setting up is behind so that the service is going to start late, let people know over the microphone so that they know what is happening. At the end of the service someone should give a notice to invite people to stay for the cafe.

5. Mailing round of service order

Once the order of service is planned email it round. You should ideally email round the brainstorm notes and then the service order after meetings one and two.

6. Checking that people are doing their tasks, have necessary help/support to deliver

Usually everyone does their tasks and creates the content and art they have agreed to do but if there are tasks that are more complex these are the things to check are happening ok.

7. Arranging cover or alternatives if someone can't deliver

If it transpires that someone is ill, unable to be at Grace, or just too busy to do what was planned, you need to rework the order of service - this might mean finding someone else to do the task or it might be finding or getting someone else to find something to replace whatever it was.

8. Ensure forthcoming service is advertised

There are a number of usual ways we advertise services:

a) Email the Grace mailing list. It is helpful if you can write one or two sentences to send that describe or intrigue people about the service.

b) Put the next service on the front page of the website. Again a few sentences or something intriguing or a visual image help in this.

c) If appropriate email St Mary's asking them to include it in the newsletter. There is only any point in doing this if you can do it after the first planning meeting. It's too late after the second.

d) Post the flyer and some words on Facebook - on the official Grace wall, and in your own feed. It will usually be picked up and spread around by other members of the Grace community. You can also post updates on curation progress, to build a sense of anticipation, if you dare!

e) Tweet about it. Use the hashtag #grace_london.

f) Encourage members of Grace to plug it to friends and in any of their avenues of communication.

9. Oversight of setting up

On the day it is your role to have thought about how the space will be and oversee the setting up process. In my experience some of this is improvised on the day which is fine. If there are particular items that are not always there (e.g. bread and wine and cup and plate if there is communion) you need to ensure that someone is bringing those. It is also worth checking who is around to help set up and clear up. There have been occasions when very few people are there to set up. It is always easier if you check in advance.

10. Collecting service material afterwards for publication on website

Please collect any bits and pieces from the service for the website.

11. Collecting feedback about the service [from team or congregation] and reporting to team afterwards

We usually reflect on the service at a meeting. You can lead that or if you prefer email round for feedback.

and finally...

These notes are meant to be a guideline to ensure the bases are covered. But curation is an art we are all learning so there are probably gaps in the notes and you may have other creative ways of facilitating the process via other communication means etc. So don't let the notes hold you back. There may also be certain services that require much more planning and a different kind of process.