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Choosing an adjudicator - a guide for organisers

One of the most vital factors in making a drama festival successful is choosing the right adjudicator – certainly it’s hard to have a good festival with an adjudicator who is not suitable. Asking the Chairman of GODA how Festivals should choose their adjudicator smacks of ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’, but I am happy to share my views.

The most vital thing, in my opinion, is that you should see adjudicators work before employing them. There is no stereotypical adjudicator – I believe that they are all competent, but have very different and individual styles. Some people are more suited to 1st. round Festivals, others are capable of adjudicating a national final, some are jovial, some are more serious, some are ‘performers’, some have gravitas; the important thing is that you know best what sort of an adjudicator you want, and if you watch somebody work, you will know what you are getting. There should be no surprises.

What if nobody from your festival can get to see an adjudicator that you want? Well, firstly, try to talk to somebody whose opinion you trust who has seen that adjudicator work. That may do it. Look to see how much work they have done. If they’ve only worked once in the last 5 years, that may tell you something! Try to find out how much they’ve been asked back for repeat bookings, that is often significant as it mean the job has been well done. If you have a good relationship with an adjudicator that you like and trust (unlikely as that may seem, before you say it!!), ask them to recommend somebody.

Finally, despite the advice given to go with experience to be safe, remember that there are a few confident, recently-qualified adjudicators, and I would urge you to occasionally ‘live dangerously’ – you may be pleasantly surprised.

Chris Jaeger, Chairman of GODA

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