Four hundred people gathered at the first European Christian Artists Seminar in 1981 - this number included staff, artists, teachers and participants. Leading musicians in the field of Christian communication had been asked to attend not only as performers and workshop leaders but also to be role models for the participants who would attend. The programme for the five day event was made up of talks, panel discussions, workshops, talent evaluations, devotional times as well as ‘show-case’ concerts each evening.
Each year the number of registrants, artists and teachers grew, reaching a peak in 1989. Over the first thirteen years of the Seminar, people came from over thirty different countries. Appendix table 2 shows the numbers attending each year and from which areas they came. The largest numbers came from Western Europe, in particular Holland, Germany and Switzerland. This could be accounted for at the simplest by distance and thereby lower travel costs, although large groups made the journey northwards from all over Spain and Italy for several years. The countries where large youth choirs are culturally popular also accounted for peaks in certain years, for instance in 1989 and 1991 when complete choirs came from Finland and Portugal. Southern Europe (especially the Balkans and Greece) has been consistently under-represented due not only to cost and distance but also to the denominational question (although the number of Catholics attending has grown, Orthodox participation has always been in single figures).
The effect of pre-publicity is also a factor in attendance. Since 1988 over 50% of participants learned about the Seminar by friends or word-of-mouth. The Christian Artists brochure and specific mailings accounted for between 13 and 20% of new interest. Other channels of publicity like magazine articles and advertisements at concerts or festivals made up for the rest. Many questions have been asked about the seeming ineffectuality of press releases, articles and advertisements through the media, and questionnaires received back from registrants in 1991 pointed to a lack of an overall PR or marketing plan and poor use of radio and TV promotion even in countries where access to the TV channels is relatively easy for Christian organisations (especially Holland).
The inefficiency and inexperience of some national coordinators may also be to blame for failing to reach Church groups, arts and youth organisations, which would be interested in supporting the Seminar and its aims if promotional material was available. Also the CA-Council have resisted the strong commercial pressure on the part of several major Christian publishers, thereby reducing some promotioned opportunities.