TLS Annual Gathering

2002 Glastonbury Symposium Memories

Held at Glastonbury Town Hall in southwest England on May 17-19 2002, this was without a doubt, the largest labyrinth event held in Britain in modern times. One hundred and two people registered for the event, and there were numerous tickets sold at the gate with 125 people present for Lauren Artress' keynote address on Saturday evening. There were registrants from twelve different countries, making it a truly international event.

While this event was never seen to be a money making endeavour, we are pleased to have made a small financial profit in addition to the positive outreach we achieved in the non-financial realms. In addition we invited a number of guests from the local community for some of the evening events, but these folk are not included in the attendance count. In general, we feel we did well in our budgeting and in our use of the budget as a guide for our planning meetings and decisions. There were, of course, some surprises along the way as well as some stress around our small profit margin.

Overall, however, we are satisfied that our decision to sacrifice larger financial gain for community good will and affordable tickets which allowed anyone to come regardless of budget - some evening tickets were available for as little as £5. Throughout the registration process, it was apparent that internet communication was essential to the success of our event. E-mail capability and on-line services saved us vast amounts of time, energy and money by eliminating the need for high phone bills, postage and advertising costs.

In a small town with limited hotel facilities we were obliged to rely on local Bed & Breakfast establishments for accommodating many of the conference speakers and attendees. Finding B&B's and hotel rooms for our registrants was not always an easy task. In the end we feel people were more or less content with the places they stayed in during the Symposium, and we have heard from many B&B owners that they have been very happy with the guests they had in their houses: "these labyrinth people are fun!" One of our key objectives during the organization of the Symposium was to make a link with the Glastonbury community and let them know an international symposium was taking place in their hometown and that a large portion of the local people could benefit from having an event of this magnitude in their town. In the process we have met the most amazing people, have seen wonderful houses and been in enchanting gardens. That all made us feel confident about the level of hospitality the Glastafari people were able to convey.

The Town Hall in Glastonbury was an ideal venue to hold the Symposium, with good facilities and helpful staff. A separate lockable room was chosen for the educational materials, which also doubled up nicely as a secure storage area, somewhere for people to leave bags etc., and the home for the lost and found department. In order that the vendors (whoops, educationalists!), who had all paid to attend the event, could actually attend the presentations and take part in the proceedings, fun and games, we operated a strict policy of closing the room five minutes before events started and only opened the room during the longer breaks. In order that anybody could have a table or some selling/display space, however 'small' their operation, there were no charges for tables, but we collected the usual 10% levy on sales to benefit TLS funds. All vendors seemed happy with this and several commented on the welcoming and all-inclusive atmosphere this generated. While the Symposium was by no means the retail therapy festival that occurs at American events, the monies levied were a useful addition to the financial success of the event and the room provided an ideal space for authors to sign books and get involved in some of the deeper discussions that break out between folk at such events.

Our schedule was somewhat different to the traditional TLS Gathering format. Like the labyrinth itself offering only one choice, we offered only a single slate of teachers with concomitant long breaks in between - We started the morning program at 10:00am and gave two hours for lunch; following the afternoon session we allowed until 8:00 pm for dinner. Networking was helped by these long breaks and by the Interest Groups. Obviously the Annual Gathering can't be run that way, but we would recommend that Regional Gatherings and other International Symposia consider this model.

Interest Groups - It was interesting which interest areas manifested in groups. We initially suggested:

Art, Corporate, Counseling, Educational, Health Care, Historical Research, Labyrinth Building, Labyrinths and the Internet, Prison Work, Spiritual/Ceremonial Aspects, Matriarchal Times & the Labyrinth

They selected:
Art, Corporate/Counseling (one group), Educational, Health Care, Spiritual/Ceremonial Aspects

Perhaps it might be useful to see how interest groups break up in Sacramento, and then get an idea on what areas TLS might want to focus on at future events.

We believe that Tours and Field Trips after all TLS Events to local labyrinths should be encouraged. In the US, there are new ones that people will want to see, and in Europe, a combination of new and old. In addition to the guided walks of the Glastonbury Tor labyrinth, some participants joined Jeff and Kimberly on a weeklong tour of the finest labyrinths in southern and central England.

TLS Events Handbook -There is no doubt about the importance of planning and long lead times in terms of the success of this Symposium. The Symposium committee met monthly for more than a year to organize this event. We are preparing a handbook that will document the organisational strategy that we employed for this event, with our successes and mistakes, which will be available for TLS members considering running a Gathering, Regional Event, or another Symposium in future. While the goals of these events may be different, the process of getting it to happen is the same. In the future, there certainly should be other TLS sponsored events in Europe. Both the Netherlands and Sweden are good prospects. The four of us might do this again in a few years - maybe!

Sig & Karin Lonegren and Jeff and Kimberly Saward
TLS International Labyrinth Symposium Committee