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The Virginia Festival of the Book Case Study

Now, that you have watched the video on The Virginia Festival of the Book, read the first part of the written case study below. We will be using this case study throughout Week 2 to examine and understand the development of project planning.

The Virginia Festival of the Book (VFOB) was jointly founded in 1994 by a group of community supporters and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH). Originally planned to comprise a dozen panels and a few dozen authors, the first festival, held in March 1995, grew to offer fifty-five events and feature one hundred authors. Within five years, more than 10,000 people would attend VFOB programs.

Celebrating its 21st year in 2015, the festival, which is held over five days each March and promotes itself as a celebration of books, reading, and literacy, has annually welcomed more than 20,000 attendees to Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2014, it presented more than 200 programs featuring more than 400 participants. Its community-based origins still held: programs took place in 78 local venues across Charlottesville and Albemarle County and more than 60 community partners sponsored or hosted programs.

Festival Programs

A typical 90-minute VFOB program featured three or four authors who had written books on a similar topic and a moderator who introduced the authors and their work. The moderator would typically lead the discussion, take questions for the authors from the audience, and keep track of time. The program usually ended with author book signings.

In addition to the more than one hundred such programs, each year the festival offered a number of ticketed events. The tickets might be free (and simply necessary for crowd control in cases of limited capacity), moderately priced (to recoup costs), or more expensive (to raise operating funds for the VFOB). Authors participating in the festival ranged from internationally recognized names to debut novelists, and they wrote in all genres, including fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, poetry, mystery, romance, and science fiction/fantasy.

The VFOB was one of 13 programs produced by VFH, which was the largest of the fifty-six state (and territory) humanities councils affiliated with the National Endowment of the Humanities. VFH, a nonprofit corporation, was also affiliated with the University of Virginia. The Virginia Center for the Book, a VFH program and the presenter of the festival, was the Virginia affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Project Goals and Priorities

The planning for each year’s festival would typically begin on May 1 of the previous year. In 2015, the festival dates were scheduled for March 18–22. The planning would include tasks in 13 categories: applications; book fair; book sales; committees, community, and partners; festival schedule; in-school and youth programs; logistics; moderators and introducers; participants; publicity; sponsorships; ticketed events; and volunteers.

There were five key milestones to hit:

September 23: Announce ticketed events

September 25: Tickets and book fair tables go on sale

October 1: Deadline for submission of program proposal

January 15: Schedule is published online

March 18: Festival begins

Review the attached documents below under “Documents” for examples of an overview of the work breakdown structure for the festival project (Figure 1) and a more detailed task breakdown (Exhibit 1).

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This article is from the free online course:

Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

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