Ryan explained how the meeting would proceed. People would be asked in turn if they had a point to make. If they did, then this would, in turn, be discussed.
Dave: Beer money
First up was Dave who wanted to discuss the money made on beer last year with an eye to making and keeping more money this year. £17,000 was paid on VAT last year, according to Dave.
Neil stated that no money was actually made last August, despite all the beer that passed through the Forest. This was due to a lot of the beer being given away, stolen or consumed by staff. This should not happen this August.
This year the Forest will be selling Heather Ale (http://www.heatherale.co.uk/). There will be 2 sizes of bottles, according to Ryan. Large bottles will sell for £3, the smaller ones, 'stiffies', for £2. There is more markup on the stiffies, so staff are asked to push these instead of the larger bottles. Would anyone like to make a sign to advertise the stiffies? Bottles of fruit wine will be on sale for £10. It was felt my many that £10 was quite a lot for a bottle, but it is hoped that not all the customers will be as pikey as the staff. Plus, the wine is quite unique and not sold anywhere else. Although it is not certified organic, this is just because the fruit is picked in the wild, rather than being grown on a farm. Staff can stress these points when trying to make a sale.
While the Forest has a liquor license, customers are not allowed to bring their own booze. It is important that this is enforced.
Neil: Underage drinking
Neil was concerned about people under 18 drinking in the Forest. We must all be careful to avoid serving people who can't prove that they are allowed to drink alcohol.
As Ryan pointed out, it is against the law to serve people who are already drunk.
During the festival, there will be night managers working from 7pm to 1am. Bar staff will be on from 10pm until 4am. Two event managers will be present to handle any kind of trouble.
We have to be careful, as the police might send in undercover officers to check up on things. Dave said that some suspicious characters had already been in asking questions. According to Neil, they also asked about buying guns. So, it pays to pay attention.
We must also enforce the smoking ban and not permit smoking anywhere in the building. During the festival there will be many non-Scots, who might not be so aware of the ban.
It was not clear whether it was OK for customers to take their drinks outside. Gandalf thought not, though Fiona thought that maybe plastic glasses were allowed. Either way, there will be lots of paper cups around. It would be worth finding out what the local laws where, as being on the wrong side of them can result in losing your license.
Ras: How the Forest functions
Ras triggered a discussion about how the Forest committee works. Neil said that the committee meetings were quite like the one we were having, though with fewer people. They happen every few weeks and the minutes put on the bulletin board.
It seemed that everyone was happy with the committee.
Night managers are welcome to come to committee meetings. Some posts are available: librarian and someone to do something with bikes. Fiona expressed an interest in the librarian job.
As an answer to the question of why the committee meetings were closed to the public, Jane said that it would be too difficult to reach a consensus with more people present. But if anyone had a complaint, suggestion or question, they could speak to a committee member.
Nick: sound equipment
Nick wanted to know what arrangements had been made for sound during the festival. There was concern that the PA was too big for many acts, and a smaller PA would improve a lot of events.
Mr Pogo said that we didn't want to get rid of the big speakers. A stage might help to improve the sound.
The sound desk was going to get moved to the corner behind the kitchen, as Mikey pointed out. So this would be the time to change things.
We wouldn't be buying any new equipment for August, though later we might be able to get some good advice on what to buy.
It was said that the Forest needs more people who can act as sound engineers. Most of the events will need some input from a sound engineer.
Last year the room upstairs was used. This year it won't be. There have been so many other things to think about, that all energies went into getting a good programme of events for the main cafe room, according to Ryan. And, as Neil said, the room upstairs was often empty last year.
Jo asked about the lobby. A champagne bar was planned for halfway up the stairs. This would take pressure off the bar in the cafe, and also stop people from wandering around upstairs. There would not be any chairs in the hallway. Some work would need to be done in making the lobby look nice.
Chris brought up the subject of fire safety. He has put in some glass panels for the fire alarms. Volunteer should make themselves acquainted with the locations of these, as well as the fire exits and extinguishers. If people need to be evacuated via the back garden, then they should not hang around there, but make their way out of the far exit. Gandalf has fire marshal training, so can offer advice. In the event of a fire, get everyone out of the building, remembering to check the toilets.
Gandalf asked about emergency lighting for the lobby. This needs to be improved before Thursday, possibly with some rewiring. If anyone knows an electrician, it would be handy. In the past, torches have been used, but this is no longer good enough for new regulations.
Fiona wanted to know what was being done to keep the toilets clean. If they looked nicer, then customers would, in turn, treat them better.
Jane said that there was a toilet cleaning rota, so people were encouraged to sign up for this. It pays £5 and takes about an hour.
Fiona suggested that volunteers should check the toilets regularly during the day - once a day wasn't enough. Swithun suggested that volunteers could do 5 minutes before they started in the kitchen.
Neil and Ryan thought that volunteers shouldn't be made to clean the toilets. It had to be a paid job.
Everyone wanted the lighting in the toilets to be improved. It is currently too dark and off-putting. The walls could also be redecorated, although there is no money to pay for materials or labour. There is a list of jobs that need to be done. People need to consult it and fix things.
Some signs guiding people to the toilets might be a good idea, though putting up curtains to block off areas would be counter productive.
The upstairs toilet has not been the same since the macerator exploded, though Jack will fix the ballcock.
Gareth: Finance update
Gareth wanted to know what the finances were like. Neil said that the Forest didn't have much money just now. The biggest bill at the moment was for VAT. Priority was being put on having some money available in case we needed to buy things in August.
Gandalf said it was best to pay VAT each month, instead of being hit by a huge bill at the end of the year.
We should make a lot of money during the festival, especially if people sell lots of stiffies.
Jane: Signing up, night menu
Jane said that August was the best time to work, so everyone should sign up for shifts. There is a full programme of events, and you can see them for free.
Jo was worried about people behaving in an antisocial way outside the Forest. Ryan said that the managers should keep order outside. It was fine to lie about your authority and importance when getting people to stop behaving badly. Also, police can't do so much if the disturbance is coming from inside. It has to be explained to offenders that outside the Forest is still the Forest, so they have to behave. There is to be no hanging around in the back garden.
The windows and shutters should be closed at 9pm to keep the noise in. And music should stop at 2.30am, so that people can leave at 2.45 and everyone be out by 3am.
Nick asked about ventilation. If anyone has a fan, they should bring it in, or even buy a cheap one, according to Jane. There is a free meal in it.
A night menu will be introduced. This will be served from 10pm onwards. It is basically everything apart from the burritos and dishes that are complicated and messy to make. Sandwiches, snacks and cakes are fine. Also, Ryan said, we will switch to paper plates at 10pm, to cut down on washing up.
Performers will not normally get free food. They are getting to perform for free at the festival, which is more than enough. Event managers can use their discretion, if they want to reward excellent acts. There will be some free beer cards too.
Jack wondered how the event managers would be identified. Neil said that bunny ears were effective for identification and also for defusing difficult situations.
Thursday is the first night of extended opening. There are no acts booked, so Friday is the opening night. People are asked to come looking smart, according to Ryan. On Saturday Ras is up to something. Before Thursday, we need to get hold of a van to transport the fake champagne. A parents' car might be available.
Any other business
Nick asked that someone look into how the Forest could offset its carbon emissions. This could be done via the energy supplier. Fiona said that Scottish Power were bad for this, but EcoEnergy (http://www.econergy.ltd.uk) were good. Gandalf suggested that we could do this ourselves as volunteers. But this would require working out how much carbon we needed to offset.
Neil said that in the mean time people should not waste electricity and make use of the recycling facilities.
If anyone has any ideas, they should get in touch with Nick or Neil.
Mr Pogo announced some new features of the Forest web site. It would now be easier for people to add content to the site. People should get writing.
Jack wondered if volunteers were still being trained. Ryan and Fiona said that if people were bad at serving, it was lack of practice rather than lack of training, as there were lots of new staff at the moment.
Use of the AV equipment was discussed. It is a bit complicated, but performers/public should not need to touch anything. There are well indicated plugs for external devices (laptops etc.). The remote for the projector is by the library.
It was noted that the IVS volunteers had done a great job.