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On Open A&S Competitions

Greetings to the People of Atlantia,

During the Ministers of Arts and Sciences Meeting at Unevent, I
announced that I would discourage Open Competitions and rather
encourage  categories with a more specific vein or Open Displays.  I
also mentioned this in a letter that I recently sent out in a packet of
information to the local MoAS officers.

Since then I have received a few queries asking me as to my reasons for
such a statement.  This is understandable since this is a bit of a
change from tradition.  It is even more understandable since I doubt my
clarity at Unevent due to a fever.

My reasons for not having Open Competitions are as follows:

>From a judges' standpoint, it is extremely difficult to compare (or even
determine a winner) when the category is so broad.  How do you compare
apples to oranges?  This is why categories can make judging a bit
easier, at least on the judges.  

Another reason from the judges' standpoint is finding judges to cover
the competition.  Ideally, judges are found beforehand to reduce last
minute gathering at the event.  In this case you are not likely, nor
certain to get a judge who can cover many categories well.  In this
case, the entrant may receive either uninformed comments or sources from
the unprepared judge.  It would be best to have Needlelace judged by
someone who at least does fiber arts, as opposed to someone whose
specialty is in cooking.  You also want to have consistent judging
throughout a competition, but no one could possibly know well the
subjects of the wide variety of arts entered.  I feel that in addition
to perhaps not being helpful, it could hurt the artisan.

The SCA has often been charged with not being fair.  Now the SCA is not
designed to be fair, but it does strive to offer a level playing field. 
I do not feel that Open A&S competitions offer this level playing
field.  At least when a novice costumer is pitted against an expert,
comparisons can be made.  However, when a novice armourer is pitted
against an expert illuminator, where does comparison come in, and what
is the likelihood of getting judges who can fairly judge and be
knowledgeable in these two fields.

Also, I believe that many artisans enter their works in competitions of
all types to gain insight as well as perhaps recognition.  Recognition
can be gained in other manners such as doing the art for the Kingdom,
Barony or other group, or putting together a great display illustrating
the art created by the artisan.  Winning a competition does not
necessarily carry the recognition that most would like to achieve.  In
addition to the recognition level, I do not see how the Open
Competitions can offer the best insight to an artisan.  If the judges,
once again, are not experts, then they may not be able to offer the best
insight.  To get really helpful and constructive criticism, one is
better off entering a themed competition that matches their category, or
simply asking an expert.  I am a big fan of asking an expert their
opinion instead of hoping for input from judges.  The A&S community is
bigger than any A&S competition can illustrate.

So in short I am against Open Competitions since they do not offer the
best of comments to the artisan, they do not resemble an even playing
field, and can prove harmful to the artisan's ego and by default their
enthusiasm.  Instead, to those who would like to show off their works, I
suggest putting together a fabulous display.  Then one does not have to
worry about if it fits the category or not.  One does not have to be
concerned with the other various arts entered.  One can include more
detailed documentation for the piece since competition documentation
should be relatively brief.  One can also show progress with different
pieces or photos/examples of stages to reach the finished project.  All
of this can be the benefits of Display.

I guess, I must ask of the populace if the need to compete in the Arts
and Sciences is truly that important.  If so, then how does an Open
Competition fulfill this, if the artisan is not put up against their

I am putting together a committee to discuss and look closely at judging
of A&S competitions on the whole.  They will look at many different
factors, and situations, and hopefully find a few answers.  It may be
that with these results open competitions may serve a purpose.  We shall

In Service,
Genevieve d'Aquitaine
org:Learning Applications Development and Support;University of Maryland University College
title:IT Support Assistant
adr;quoted-printable:;;Inn & Conference Center Rm 0300=0D=0AUniversity Blvd @ Adelphi Rd;College Park;MD;20742;USA
fn:Jennifer Thies