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The prospect of putting on a festival excited me Having for years

Categories: FestivalSwot Analysis

The prospect of putting on a festival excited me. Having, for years, had an interest in the general world of event management, I was fascinated to allow this experience to broaden my understanding of the industry and eager to take away some pointers that would help me to put on an event in the future if I did decide to ever explore this avenue. I was also eager for this opportunity to allow me to work with other people and to be able to use all of our varied ideas and experiences to produce a night that everyone would enjoy and that we could be proud of.

During one of our weekly lectures, this one given by a guest speaker from the Edinburgh International Festival who works within the area of marketing and communications, we were given many tools that are used by professionals in this industry in order to put on an enjoyable show in which anything that could go wrong is dealt with in plenty of time.

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One of these main tools would be the Event Lifecycle, which is essentially a course of measures to bring an event to life and make sure it runs as smoothly as possible (Lecture 3). We were able to use this to think of aspects of putting on our festival that we had not thought about before, for example, we had not previously even considered the thought of needing a risk assessment for the venue therefore were able to make a note of this so we were able to ask someone who would know whether or not we needed to complete one.

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During this same lecture there were many more tools mentioned that could help us with the planning of our festival but one of the most helpful would have to be the SWOT Analysis where we could establish the internal strengths and weaknesses we had and also the external opportunities and threats that presented (Lecture 3). Doing this allowed us to understand the strengths we had as a group, for example our wide range of personalities and ideas that we could use to help make the festival a success. As well as the difficulties that we might encounter, for example circumstances out with our control like other events taking place in the city on our chosen nights. Therefore, we were able to use this SWOT Analysis to enhance our evenings and use all of our combined ideas and experiences to put on an event that people would choose to see over whatever else they had planned for the evening.

A lecture from another member of the Edinburgh International Festival team, this time the Head of External Affairs, explored some similar themes yet also touched upon a few other ideas including that of relevance. In regard to the Edinburgh International Festival, it has to be relevant to a number of different people and sectors such as the world of the arts, the people of Edinburgh, the cultural sector of Scotland and the supporters and funders of the event (Lecture 4). This was something to think about for our own festival, to consider who and what our festival had to relate to and be relevant to. We had already established that our prospective audience would be primarily students at our university therefore the content and portrayal of the evening had to be relevant to them and be something that they would enjoy and be engaged in. Our evenings also had to be relevant to the venue we had hired to make sure that its reputation is not tarnished by our event and that is in keeping with what is usually presented. This really gave us a lot more to think about while planning our festival.

Within a different lecture we spoke about advertising events and how to help audiences understand what an event contains just from one sheet of paper that has to catch their eye as soon as they see it. We looked at some examples of advertising material from both the Newport Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Lecture 2), both of which contain silhouettes of a trumpet being played which is an instrument notoriously associated with Jazz music worldwide. This means that anyone seeing these adverts, even just for a brief second without the chance to catch the name of the festival, they can clearly tell just by the inclusion of a trumpet that it is probably a Jazz related event, with the obvious names giving it away for those with time to read them. Therefore, when creating the poster for and advertising our own festival we had to be sure that people understood from both the name and the poster design what the event was going to contain. I feel like we did this well, especially with the festival name, Off The Cuff, accurately representing the diverse range of cultural acts that would be performing on both nights and the poster clearly stating the specific acts which would be performing as well as the use of patterns and colours making it stand out and be interesting enough for people to stop and take a proper look at which acts make up this theme.

Rob St. John (2014) portrays the idea in his article, ‘Don’t Make a Scene’, that putting on so-called ‘DIY Shows’, essentially amateur run gigs, is not necessarily expensive or difficult to a certain extent but is however extremely time-consuming and occasionally can be frustrating. I feel that this point accurately represents the feelings I personally had throughout this process. Aside from the venue hire, collectively as a group we spent very little on the running and preparation of the event and it was undoubtedly easier to organise than I had first anticipated it would be, which could possibly be down to the fact that we already had a venue hired for us as well as having three groups from a different course willing to perform on one of the two nights. However, it was time-consuming, many aspects having to be completed out with the allocated workshop time every week, and also at times it was frustrating, particularly so in regard to some people not turning up to all, or sometimes even any, of the workshops and therefore I found it to sometimes be difficult to plan who would handle specific aspects of the preparation and running. What was also particularly frustrating for me personally was not being included in the preparation in the way I should have. I, along with others from our group, had requested to be part of the marketing and promotional team for the event as a whole and simply were not involved with this, even after asking for a second time to be added to a group chat, they had made in order to be of use to this part of preparations. I partly blame the sheer size of the class in general for this. Had there been less people in one group I feel that everyone would have been able to contribute to their full potential and not be side-lined and forgotten about.

Chris Tipton (2014) makes a statement in an article, included in the same publication as St. John’s, that I feel accurately represents the feelings of not just me, but everyone involved in putting together this festival; ‘Many liken promoting events to gambling – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose’. I know I speak for more than just myself when I say that we were waiting with bated breath in the lead up to the festival, much in the same way as when you are gambling and are waiting to find out if you have won, praying that you have not lost all of your money and have something to show for your efforts, but instead we were waiting to find out how many tickets we had sold and if we would break even or better yet generate a profit for the charity we had chosen to support, the likelihood we were most hoping for. This anticipation was greatly amplified by the fact that we had released tickets online giving people the ability to pre-purchase their tickets before the nights, however we did not manage to sell many tickets this way so were relying heavily on people buying their tickets on the door, meaning we were on tenterhooks throughout both nights hoping that we had sufficiently publicised the evenings in order to appeal to a wide range of people.

In conclusion, it was a trying and demanding challenge putting on the festival, but I believe that we achieved what we set out to do which was to create two nights full of diverse and cultural arts and give the paying audience an enjoyable evening while aiming to generate some profit for our chosen charity. In an article, Steve Brett (2014) suggests to readers that when putting on an event it should be something that excites you personally and an event you yourself would want to pay money to attend and I feel that this is exactly what we managed with us ourselves enjoyed the festival just as much as the audience we catered for.

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The prospect of putting on a festival excited me Having for years. (2019, Dec 19). Retrieved from

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