As you might know, I’m hosting a few SCA A&S (Arts & Science competitions) this year, and I’ve found in the past that finding judges can be very challenging. Judges play a huge role in the success of a competition though, and we need them! In this post I’ll try to address how to be an awesome judge – even if you don’t always feel like you’re qualified to judge other people’s work.
I’m in NO way an expert on this… I’m still pretty new to the SCA, and haven’t travelled outside of Avacal to see how things are done elsewhere. Still, I’ve been to, judged, and competed in a few competitions, and have some suggestions and things to think about…and this is my soapbox! 😉
Are you qualified?
For some levels of competition, expert judges ARE very valuable. However, even at the highest level of competition, one competitor doesn’t need a whole panel of expert judges in their subject matter. They need judges who can assess their project, their research, their documentation, and their presentation – you don’t need to be a textile expert to assess if someone’s textile presentation is compelling and informative!
Generally an organizer will look for a judge who can offer special insight into the type of project they’ve done, another who will offer insight into the culture they’re examining, and a third who might be valuable in assessing documentation, research, or presentation/display skills.
At other competitions, experts are still valuable – as they can offer additional resources, guidance, suggestions, and advice to competitors, but they’re not necessary. One of the competition styles I’ve been using is a ’round table’ discussion format – where ALL competitors and judges sit together, and ask questions, offer advice, etc – so you don’t need to be a subject-matter expert at all to assist.