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Forums > Help! > organising a festival

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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:a friend and I are looking at the possibility of organising a festival next year - just to be clear, we are in the concept/planning stage only - no money has been taken or put down on anything.

The idea is to have object manipulation/martial arts/dance based workshops during the day, with a few bands on in the evening.

Ideally this will run for a few days, so will involve organising infrastructure ie
water supply
toilets
showers
loos
security
food

In terms of tents, we'd provisionally be looking at one large marquee in case of rain and for bands in the evening, then possibly a smaller chill out/ meditation area well away from that. Presumably traders bring their own tents generally

In terms of permits (this is where I'm sketchy) I'm assuming we'd need some sort of license to play music in the evening, potentially an alcohol license, and some sort of health and safety check/certificate?

Also, how do you judge numbers? is there some sort of recommended way of figuring it out/ratio of infrastructure+space to people?

we're going to try to do a costing over the next few weeks, so any suggestions, advice or reality checks would be much appreciated smile

cheers


Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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Fearpig
BRONZE Member since Sep 2003

Fearpig

member - tee hee "member"
Location: Bethnal Green, London

Total posts: 279
Posted:Sorry Guy!

<ramble>

Usually above 500 people on site (that includes performers, staff, punters) and you get a whole load more complex with insurance, health and safety and site licences.

You need to make sure that you cost for security as well... every hour that you serve alcohol you must have at least one registered security person on-site. Double check that as it may vary by location.

Infrastructure really depends on duration! You might get away with no showers and few toilets and few water points if its only a day festival, make it three days and people will NOT be happy about having few toilets! A urinal can take off a lot of waiting time for the portaloos. Good for the blokes and ladies with a she-pee!

When costing for toilets you need to remember that if you go for porta-loos then they need to be cleaned every day or every other day depending on how many you get.

If you aim for 500 people then you will need around 10 crew to act as gophers / car park attendants / litter pickers / hospitality. Thats on top of sound techs, light techs, crew manager, site manager.

Someone needs to be responsible for first-aid! (Although often professional security are qualified to do this as well)

Serving food to hippies means you need to offer vegetarian options as well (damn hippies)!

Disabled accessability is fairly easy at a festival as long as you provide at least one diabled toilet!

Apply to the council early and they will help you out with what you need to get. Even Cambridgeshire council!

Power is another major requirement... you can get generators fairly cheaply and tuck them out of the way so they are not too loud. They can eat a shed load of fuel though and someone needs to be tasked with keeping them topped up! Check that the company you hire from is willing to deliver them onto a grass field though, some companies will only deliver to the edge of a site! Alternatively hire a site with a 16 amp 240 volt supply (or greater).

You will also need a qualified sparky to sign off on you sites electrical connections (check if your sound or light tech is qualified for this before hunting down another sparky!).

I think the most important thing to do is delegate!! Have someone organise workshops, someone else organise the main marquee (shows, sound checks, bands) and have a site manager (toilets, water, car parking, showers).

Most important of all remember that you're doing it because you love it!!

</ramble>

Pick my brains if you want!


"Whats wrong with the cat?" - Mrs Schrdinger

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:hmmm shall watch this topic developing...

I can't be of much help regarding the organisation of a festival IN THE UK... however I would say you make a rough sketch and visit local authorities (in the best garment available).

Generally you will have to keep up with a huge pile of work, starting by collecting informations on (costs of)

- space
- schedule
- (local) licenses
- team
- insurance
- power supply
- amenities
- food
- security
- waste management
- parking
- volunteers
- promotion
- funds/ costs
- sponsors

best is to visit a successful festival and run around with open eyes - maybe even ask questions wink

Timing and space are essential for a successful event. If your event is in the same slot with other huge (established) venues, you may not get anyone. If your location is remote, it will be underground and only the dedicated will come - which can be attractive in its own way.

You need to check with local authorities, as to find out what their requirements are. Wear your best garment and ideally you do not to show up alone.

Make a checklist and definitely ask for the timeline they need for processing your request.

Gather a team of 3 or 4 people who help you organize. Any number >4 will be a mess. There should not be more than these managing the event, each and every with sub-divisions. One responsible for overall management/ licenses/ finances/ infrastructure, one responsible for stage area, one responsible for food and stalls, one for camping... the more you centralize the topics, the more work it will be but you will have small meetings - saving time and nerves. Each and every manager then has a small team her/ himself to gather and to make meetings with.

Insurance is important in the West, so look up the white pages or goole for companies.

As previously said, you might need a generator that you can rent (they are way not as costly as they have been in the past - BUT they run on petrol/ diesel - make a calculation (worst case scenario))

How many people, how many days? You definitely need toilets... 50 ppl can share one... Cleaning team for the toilets (an all-time favorite) and count at least one more in case another breaks down... some rental companies will provide you with emergency backup and cleaning teams during the event.

Food is important, choose simple food that can be stored and will last a few hours without a fridge. Choose a good ratio as in price-value... Use recyclable plates and cups whenever possible.

Security as mentioned above. Count less in the beginning (first days) and more in the end... never be understaffed, rather have one sitting around, doing nothing and being available when the crap hits the fan.

Waste management is very important, you need to clarify where you can dump the stuff and who is going to help you.

Organize parking space and count generously. People share rides and come with trains and busses, but think of a shuttle bus. Good parking organisation will keep the locals calm.

You n.e.e.d volunteers - and there are so beautiful people out there who are willing to sacrifice for a good cause... I would not have made the InJuCo without volunteers... the first event I ran almost all by myself, on the second I had a team of 10 people assisting me... without them, the convention would not have happened. Next time YOU go to a festival - volunteer and learn. I did on the EJC and really: it has been great fun and a learning experience.

How will you promote your event? Flyers are essential, unless your event is established... The EJC really does not need any adverts - but it needs a website. Be aware that ppl are only believing what they see...

Generously calculate your costs - always be ready to spend 10 - 20% more than calculated.

And if you don't have the funds, look for sponsors - offer them "exposure" wink

Last

Originally Posted By: FearpigMost important of all remember that you're doing it because you love it!!

Be ready to Sacrifice, to have NO fun on your event and to be censored pit digger, medic, counsellor, electrician, driver, MC, entertainer, etc all in one person, not atttending a single workshop and maybe even missing out on the (gala) shows... and in the end - with nobody standing by - be ready to even go to jail for it.

wink peace


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Posted:Originally Posted By: FireTom with nobody standing by - be ready to even go to jail for it.

I would take his advice.... It's very real world.

Sprit has soooo much to do with these events. Never forget that. And good luck mate!!


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Seye
SILVER Member since Mar 2005

Seye

Geek
Location: Manchester, UK

Total posts: 1261
Posted:I havent really got that much time to reply at the moment but if you need advice feel free to message me.

I run one festival, manage a couple of others and am a professional sound engineer / tech / stage & production manager. In fact I'm off up to Scotland next week to do the main stage at T-in-the-Park.

I'm more than happy to help with any specific questions but for starters you NEED to get a copy of this book...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0717624536/ref=nosim/worldofevents
br>
It takes you through all of the things that you are required to do by law for health and safety / welfare / etc for any event.


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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:seye - just ordered it - thanks for the heads up

Thanks to all of you for the helpful advice - I'm going to have plenty to say on Thursday!


Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:oh too late - you can just download that for free online I got one for Southern Lights.

Guy the most important thing to do is budget well. work out your likely costs, add 2000 then (if for 499 license - that's including all staff and performers) work out your ticket price. I suggest basing it on 350 people. I also suggest you make preparation to lose a few quid wink don't base ticket price on selling out. Our first year we had quite a lot less and it picked up the second 2 years, but there are ALWAYS additional costs normally when setting up, diesel stuff like that. if you PM me your e-mail I'll send you a list of things we had to pay for for southern lights that may help you.


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:This is the link to the FREE .pdf of "Event Safety Guide"

Mynci and Seye - I wrote you a PM to get some advice on event/ festival planning too

redface never too old or too experienced to learn from others hug


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:wink Oops just notice I said "350 people" should have been 350 laugh3 don't charge 350, people won't come grin

our 4 man team was
me - workshops, budgeting, design, planning, gate,staff
Simon - money, performers, infastructure,
Matt - Bar, bands, stage, electrics
Reza - Traders, DJ's,

the most important thing is to plan your site well to keep costs down and movement onsite to a minimum.

edit: I should point out that all of us did more than what I put down on that list above before any of the guys see this and think I've made out I did more than them laugh3 simon and matt spent a lot of time running around doing vists etc Rez performed twice at the festival etc etc. Don't count on yourselves performing either you may well be too busy wink

EDITED_BY: Mynci (1246458221)
EDIT_REASON: fairness lol


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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Fire_Moose
SILVER Member since May 2007

Fire_Moose

Elusive and Bearded
Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Total posts: 3597
Posted:just buy lots of beer....everything else should work itself out really...

O.B.E.S.E.

Owned by Mynci!

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TheDee
SILVER Member since May 2004

newbie
Location: Dublin

Total posts: 47
Posted:If possible talk to those who have previously hosted BJCs - they have all the expertise you could possibly want about hosting a festival in the UK. The one this summer (though typically at Easter) will be held in Norwich - so that team should be relatively accessible.

As for your site - have you even got one in mind? If so, have you any idea about the costs? Prepare a rough budget before getting too involved in order to assess the feasibility of the event. Have you an idea of when you want to run it? Make sure that you don't clash with any other (big or nearby) festivals so that you can maximise the numbers of potential attendees.

Decide on a realistic scale of numbers. Contact other festival organisers (especially ones with the same "target audience") and get an idea of the numbers that attended, and how those numbers have changed year on year.

Best of luck.
Dee
(Co-ordinator of the EJA "Future EJCs" Subgroup)


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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:yeah Guy worth looking at what weekends are taken and what competition you will have as well as what that weekends weather has been like over past years.

Fire gathering - Now 2nd mayday bank holiday
Southern lights - mid June (Normally weekend before solstice)
BJC - Easter
Bristol - September
Play?? - last weekend in July

We compete with download, so our numbers are reduced, however it does mean we don't have a lot of beer monsters looking for a weekend and therefore get a good vibe with nice people. I strongly suggest checking IJDB for events to see if there are any weekeknds free from conventions, then efestivals to see what other festivals you clash with.


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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Helen_of_Poi
SILVER Member since Apr 2004

Helen_of_Poi

lapsed spinner
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Total posts: 412
Posted:I don't know where to begin without specific questions, but feel free to pm and ask if I can help with anything. Most of our Health & Safety regs are the same as in the UK (we're lazy about making our own) so I'm pretty familiar with them - as well as the EJC I have several other festivals under my belt and am more than willing to give advice if needed.

Another thing I would say, and this one is more from a marketing perspective, but decide who your festival is for. If it's for spinners/jugglers/manipulators that is a very different thing from organising something which you want the general public to take part in.

It not only changes what kind of workshops, shows etc that you programme, but how you tell people about the event, and to a large extent how the event itself will be run. It's also good to be clear in your own head what your goals are - why do you want to do this?


Helen_of_Poi

EJC Ireland 2006 Organisational Team

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:Being crazy can't be ruled out wink

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:Ok, so we have a potential date: July 30th- August 1st (clashes with big green but our ticket prices will be much less)

Our working title is 'Elements of Flow' (yes we already bought the domain name)

Size of the festival will be determined by the size of the site we manage to secure, but we will be aiming around 300 people if possible(we want to keep it small and simple for the first year)

our aim is to encourage more crossover between the martial arts, dance and spinning/circus communities - to explore the concepts of energy and flow, and to appeal to all levels, from beginner to expert.

for our first year, success will be determined by whether we break even or not.

I am going site-seeing this week and hopefully should have a couple of prices and places to consider by the end of the week.

My dad has turned out to be a very useful contact as he has a lot of farmer contacts and thus suggested half a dozen sites from cambs to warwickshire!


Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:wow - that's quite short notice...
I like the topic smile good luck!

hug

EDITED_BY: FireTom (1246833606)


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:just to be clear - that's July to August weekend *2010*

optimistic though we are, we're not that crazy!

thanks Tom! hug


Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:laugh3 not like us then, February - "lets put on a festival" - June "aw crap 4 months was a bit tight" wink

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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Skulduggery
GOLD Member since Aug 2004

Skulduggery

Pirate Pixie Crew Captain
Location: Wales

Total posts: 8428
Posted:Guy, last year I went to a festival called "The bare foot Festival". It was fairly small but based in the world of dance, but had a bit of a cross over with capoeira, us hooping and some fire spinners for the show. It was a really nice mix and had a really fabulous atmosphere and although Cath, Hannah and I turned up knowing no one we went way knowing lots of lovely new people. I think your idea will work out well.

I think the reason the mix worked well at that festival was there was one basic similarity within all the groups and that was the dance side of all our different loves.

Louisa Wait is the organiser of that event if you want to have a chat with her I'm sure she would be happy to give you some tips and hints on how to attract some dance people along.

Good Luck with it all. I for one would love to come.


Feed me Chocolate!!! Feed me NOW!

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Gayle......!
SILVER Member since Jul 2004

Pooh-Bah
Location: Bristol !!!!!!

Total posts: 2444
Posted:Originally Posted By: Helen_of_poiAnother thing I would say, and this one is more from a marketing perspective, but decide who your festival is for. If it's for spinners/jugglers/manipulators that is a very different thing from organising something which you want the general public to take part in.

It not only changes what kind of workshops, shows etc that you programme, but how you tell people about the event, and to a large extent how the event itself will be run. It's also good to be clear in your own head what your goals are - why do you want to do this?

I think this will be very important to the sucess of the festival. The dance scene and the martial arts scene are huge and varied. How are you going to attract people from those circles. I know the "type" of people you are after, just make sure you think about how to attract them....After all, a festival's not a festival without people!

I'm sure you've got contacts in most places in the UK who are involved in either the dance or martial arts scence and if you're looking in this direction i'm assuming you have someone on board already who is from these circles - maybe ask them for their views as well and see if they can help you in advertising in the right places! For instance, will your festival suit studiers of ballet, irish dance and kung fu. Or is it more specific to capoeira and breaking and tai chi?


Gayle.....!

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Gayle......!
SILVER Member since Jul 2004

Pooh-Bah
Location: Bristol !!!!!!

Total posts: 2444
Posted:Originally Posted By: LazyAngelour aim is to encourage more crossover between the martial arts, dance and spinning/circus communities - to explore the concepts of energy and flow, and to appeal to all levels, from beginner to expert.

This leads me to believe that it's not actually a "festival" in the traditional sense you want to organise but a gathering of like minded indivduals who come to participate in the exploration of a specific idea. More like a workshop weekend rather than a festival. This is a familiar concept in the dancing world where you go to "training" days/weekends and explore concepts through workshops, games and talks. There are hugely beneficial to those who attend and want to learn.

I'll be following this thread. And as always Guy, you know where to find me if you want to pick my brains.


Gayle.....!

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Posted:Lazy Angel, I applaud you for your ideas. I myself would like to see a closer relationship between the circus arts and the martial arts. I am doing Wu Shu and Poi and Rope Dart and your festival attracts me greatly. So hopefully that helps with trying to figure out whether or not your advertising to the right demographic. Gayle has some very good points though and you need to make sure that you define your target audience and really go after them effectively. This can be done in some of the following ways:

depict your advertising material clearly and effectively.
contact people already interested in the field and MAKE SURE they are coming.
have some workshops already planned that you can put on your advertising. here it would be good to minimize your martial styles... there are so many and while you can make it clear that everyone is welcome it would be better to have some specific ones ready so that you can appeal to those specific groups otherwise your stuck with a vague festival with no direction.

I also have some experience with organizing events and festivals. I have organized plenty of things as Activities Officer for Melbourne University and it has taught me that it doesn't matter how small or cheap your event is it can still fail if you don't advertise it properly and appeal to the right groups in the right way. I had a 400 person break even snow party fail with tickets @ $15 p/p, just because the timing was off and the groups we were appealing to said they would support it and then didn't.

I also have an idea that might help with waste management. In Aus we have easily knocked up raised wooden toilet blocks at festivals and you crap into a wheelie bin and throw sawdust over the top. the waste is then used as fertilizer to regrow the festival site (possibly not a problem in UK) but it is an efficient and easily manageable system, mostly self cleaning and requires few staff to maintain.

Please feel free to keep in touch as I would love to help with this event if I can... I am likely to be in either continental Europe or the UK in July 2010 so I should be around if you need any help. would love to be a major organizer but there is no way i can commit to that so we'll just have to see what the future brings.


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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:Thanks for the input people grouphug

I'm holding off posting more until we get a site confirmed..


Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:well one possibility has come up - we'd need to change the date to the first weekend in september, but we would have an area in a larger festival (lodestar). I'm not sure exactly how it would work out (subject to meetings/discussions with the parties concerned) but they suggested that we could sell the tickets to cover our costs - any thoughts/ experiences of this?

Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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UCOF
SILVER Member since Apr 2002

UCOF

Carpal \'Tunnel


Total posts: 15414
Posted:I do.
I have bought tickets for events in the past.



Shame I don't have a time machine so I could actually get entry to the event, rather than being a few years too late. frown


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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:well I asked for that one - thanks Jon smile

Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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