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DataFest Fringe How To Guide

The Fringe at DataFest

A pivotal component of DataFest every year is the Fringe. This comprises of events that are organised by the tech, data science and AI community in Scotland. The idea is based on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival whereby you can organise your own event, and we as the overall festival organiser will do our best to help you by supporting it however we can. We do not charge a fee for small and medium size organisations, however there is a fee attached to large commercial organisations. Due to The Data Lab being Scotland’s innovation centre for data science and AI, we have built a network of relationships throughout the country in all sectors and with this we can promote your event to the relevant friends of The Data Lab that we know will be interested in attending.

So you want to organise an event

The first thing you need to organise an event is an idea. Think about a topic that you are passionate about, and that you think needs a platform. Let’s use an example: artificial intelligence in art. Now think about what the best format for your event would be to achieve your end goal, which may largely be to raise awareness and create discussion. This event could be, but is not limited to; lecture, networking event, special guest talk, conference, hackathon, exhibition, workshop or even a combination of them. Alongside this, pick a time frame for it. A hackathon might require a weekend, whereas a networking event might be most effective in the evening. For our AI in art event, let’s pick a lunchtime workshop where we will showcase some of the tools you can use to create your own AI art.

“Don’t regard your event as a one-off. Instead, see it as a stepping stone to building a local data community. Make attendees feel that they are part of that community and they’ll help you to grow it”
Ian Watt, CEO, CodeTheCity and serial fringe event organiser.

You have an Idea – where next?

Now that you have your idea you need to flesh out the event. How many people, where will you find a venue to suit your needs, will you charge admission, what day, what time, will there be food and drink, etc. Think about the theme of your event before you decide how many people, and how many people it will appeal to. Fringe events could be as few as 5 people or as many as 500, however we find anywhere between 10 – 30 tends to be the average. DataFest is a two-week festival and the first week is the allocated time for fringe events. Why the first week? The second week is consumed with the main DataFest activities and can mean less attendees for your event. We don’t recommend charging an admission fee however this will of course depend on the needs of the event, and everyone is different. So going back to our example: for our AI art event we will limit attendees to 20, charge no fee for admission, make it 1 hour long on the Monday of the first week of DataFest at lunchtime 12.30 – 1.30, and we will hold it in our company’s board room negating any fee for a venue.

The admin bits

Before you can announce your event and make it live, you will need to submit it to us for approval to ensure it fits with the overall ethos of DataFest, and you can do so HERE. The call for fringe events will be open between 23rd October and 19th November. This will require filling in a short submission form. We will evaluate your event based on the information you submit and get back to you with a confirmation or otherwise. If your event doesn’t fit based on the info you’ve sent, we’ll do our best to work with you to make it work as part of DataFest. The next step is adding it to our website and creating a ticketing page. This year we are working with a Scottish ticketing company called Citizen Ticket who are running the ticketing for all our main events. We would recommend you using this company through us as it means we can keep an eye on ticket numbers and sign ups, and if we see it’s slow, we’ll do everything we can to promote it. Alternatively, you can use someone like Eventbrite, or your own company’s service if that’s preferential.

Anything else?

Once we have all that set up it’s time to promote and get people involved. We will support you in promoting it through our channels, but it is very important for organisers to use their own network to ensure the event gets a decent crowd to make it worth it. And that’s it. It’s really as simple as that. We’re always happy to answer your questions if you have any so please do send them in. Otherwise, get thinking about what your event could be about!

“As your event approaches remember to contact attendees. Send them an email to remind them about it, offer directions and other useful info. If you are sold out ask if they are really coming and if not to give up places that can be taken up by others who are waiting for one.”
Ian Watt, CEO, CodeTheCity and serial fringe event organiser.

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