On Thursday, February 16 at 6:30 p.m., the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms will host its annual Kick-off Party for the 30th Anniversary National Arts & Crafts Conference in the Skyline Room of the Grove Park Inn. This evening of casual fun, a fundraiser for the museum, includes barbeque, local brew, bluegrass, and, now in its third year, the Arts & Crafts Trivia Challenge, emceed by the museum’s Executive Director Vonda Givens. Here’s the latest from her desk:
“It’s daunting.” If you asked me what it feels like to emcee the Arts & Crafts Trivia Challenge at the Arts & Crafts Conference Kick-off Party hosted by the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, I’d say, “It’s fun, but it’s daunting.” You might think I was joking or being overly dramatic (who me?) but let me describe it from my perspective.
Once I step up on the wheeled-in stage, directly in front of me is an audience of about one hundred Arts & Crafts enthusiasts. They are serious—serious enough about Arts & Crafts to attend a full-weekend conference—they are friendly, but make no mistake, they are competitive. At least one-third of this crowd would qualify as an expert of some kind. Among them are long-time conference attendees (20, 25 and even 30 years!), scholars, authors, long-time dealers and long-time collectors, and Bruce Johnson, who is all of these. I am none of these.
After writing the above paragraph, I read it aloud to my husband and he said, “If you’re not any of those things, then what are you?” Okay, I’m definitely (I hope it goes without saying) an Arts & Crafts enthusiast. As of 2017, I’m a proud 10-year conference attendee! I’ve been working at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms since 2008 (first as the education director and since 2014 as the executive director). I have been fully and voluntarily indoctrinated, but I’m keenly aware that I’m no Arts and Crafts expert. I’d describe my job as more “chief cook and bottle washer” than expert, but importantly, I know whom to call when expertise is needed, like say, putting together questions for an Arts & Crafts Trivia Challenge.
One hundred Arts & Crafts enthusiasts look at me expectantly. They have assembled themselves around tables into teams. There’s a table near the door with prizes lined up, including a dozen medals for 1st prize—think dime-store not Olympic. The Challenge is about bragging rights. The medal is a token. Bragging rights last forever. Well, at least until next year.
The stage is tall—it’s a slightly scary step up in heels—and, no matter how we arrange the room, it feels far from the audience. The A/V system is complicated enough to require hiring an A/V team to set it up, but not complicated enough for them to stick around. They show me what buttons to push, in what sequence, and leave a phone number to call for help.
We start working on questions a few months ahead of this night. By we, I mean a small, trusted cabal—errr, team, I meant team! A small trusted team works on the questions, refining them in the weeks before the party. Each year the stakes get raised a bit more. There’s a kind of art to choosing good questions that are easy enough to entertain, hard enough to challenge, and complex enough to set expectations and then break them. The questions need to take enough of a deep-cut into Arts & Crafts minutia to spark interest from the experts, but also enough about other things to level the playing field and keep the whole crowd engaged.
Someone turns down the lights. It’s time to start.
Want to give the Challenge a try? Then be sure to join the party! Worried that you’re not an expert? No problem. Each team member’s personal cache of random knowledge comes in handy (Trust me. Arts & Crafts Trivia can cover a lot of territory!). Or, you’ve still got about three weeks to lure an expert to your table.
Seats are filling up fast. Along with the Challenge, we promise a fun kickoff to your conference weekend with Southern comfort food, Asheville-style, and toe-tapping bluegrass from crowd-favorite, County Farm band. The evening begins with a cocktail hour for making new friends and reuniting with old ones. And the entire evening is a fundraiser for the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, supporting the museum’s daily operations, collections care and efforts to educate all ages to ensure the preservation of Gustav Stickley’s home and legacy. Reserve your spot now. To win a medal, you have to be in the game!
For more details and to make a reservation: www.stickleymuseum.org
Or call the administrative office of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms at 973.540.0311.