We actually asked ourselves two questions here:-
Anyway our answers were no, yes.
On Friday evening we wanted a standard ceilidh, with something a bit different, starting later to take the load off the ceilidh as people arrived during the evening. In fact we used a French dance as the different dance.
On Saturday we had the usual arrangement of workshops, with a morris tour departing after the first; a display ceilidh in the afternoon, one more workshop slot and then three big evening dances. The evening dances were a ceilidh, a scottish dance and something else. Often the something else has been a Playford biased dance but we decided to have a Contra dance which turned out to be very successful; in 1997 we had a Playfordish dance which attracted a reasonable number, but not really enough for the large hall it was in - it was definitely the least popular dance whereas in 2001 all three dances were of roughly equal popularity. We specifically wanted the Scottish dance to be accessible to competent dancers who didn't know any Scottish dances which is why we booked a caller we asked to call the dances throughout rather then do a standard Scottish MC job of announcing the dance and then letting people who know it get on with it.
At some point we added up the available dancing space and had a panic as to whether people would fit. (Our panic was valid except we forgot that actually there are a lot of flaked-out non-dancing people so we sold more tickets than we had simultaneous dancers.) We had a bit of a debate and the options we discussed were:-
On Sunday we followed the standard format of morning workshops followed by the survivors ceilidh.
Most of the workshop leaders agreed to run their workshops six months or more before the festival, but we didn't set up the timetable until about a month before. This caused us some problems (including getting the timetable in the programme wrong because of some last minute changes) but on the other hand did allow us to slot in some quite late additions such as when a visiting foreign dancer said "how about my running a yodelling workshop". The massage and juggling workshops were run by university societies we had asked ages before the festival but never gave us useful replies until the last minute. (Some other societies never gave useful replies so you were spared their wacky workshops.) This is probably inevitable given that we are asking favours from these societies who will presumably call for volunteers to run the workshop and get vague replies from students who can't plan when to submit essays, let alone when to run workshops. Given that we are cadging favours to get cheap workshops it is difficult to argue with a workshop leader who suddenly says he can't do Saturday, but is happy to come on Sunday.
Our workshop organiser also blames some of the delay on the various workshops being farmed out to be organised by committee members with the right contacts; this slowed everything down compared to having everything organised by one person.
The other problem late workshop scheduling gives is advertising to local dance clubs. Often local dancers will be interested in one or two workshops in particular and will want to come to a workshop by a renowned expert, but will demand to know when to turn up.
I suspect that if our workshops had been organised by a control freak type then we would have had a less interesting workshop programme published a lot earlier. Let's face it:- you don't really have much choice in who is going to organise your workshop programme so you don't have much choice in organisation style.
There are a tremendous number of people with a lot of goodwill towards IVFDF so finding workshop leaders is actually quite easy. If you are a poor lost student struggling to organise workshops then start sending out SOS messages and help will appear. Be a bit careful about how you handle this - it is your festival so when someone tells you to have workshops in X, Y and Z then be prepared to think whether you actually want that; with luck you will have to throw out various workshop possibilities so make sure it ends up as your choice. The obvious starting point is the last year's IVFDF workshop organiser who probably has a few workshops they lost because the leader couldn't make the particular date (danger signal, that was his choice, not yours) or can put you in touch with any of his workshop leaders ("I really liked that Welsh dance workshop in Cambridge, can you suggest someone who could do it in St Andrews?"). Your local dance clubs may be good at finding local experts (though they will be unlikely to understand what IVFDF is about). The other thing is to ask around the IVFDF fraternity - I expect you could run a complete set of IVFDF workshops using the festival goers from the previous year.
If your workshop leader has not seen IVFDF before then you may need to explain what it is all about so that he can pitch his workshop at the right level. You will also struggle to extract a blurb for his workshop to go in the programme. From the workshop leader's point of view writing such a blurb is quite difficult, especially if you don't really know about IVFDF; this makes postponing writing it a very attractive proposition. It may end up easier for the workshop organiser to discuss the workshop with the leader and then produce a draft write-up. SAEs and nagging E-mails help too.