2. Getting out of my depth and swimming for it
I've worked at festivals as a performer and arts producer since 2007 but had never been involved in the logistical management side until this year, when super-organiser Brita Young took me on as an assistant running The Unfairground at Glastonbury. I was on site for just shy of two weeks, living in a cosy caravan and spending my days charging about on walkie talkies, reeling at the sheer amount of spreadsheets required for a rave-up and taking Billy Bragg for a nightwalk to consult with our resident pole dancers about unionizing. The sheer number and caliber of artists that performed was amazing and generally the feedback on site was that ours was a field kicking ass and throwing one of the best parties around, so congratulations all!
The protocol and communications involved in this kind of event management are dizzying, the hours grueling and the dribbling gratitude a hot shower and a glass of wine can induce infinite. Teamwork and gallows humour are the backbone of festival production, both of which I'm into, and few are immune to the thrill of high-vis, site vocab and grimy build crew hotties.
I knew before going that my general working methods would be a challenge- in comparison to Brita's encyclopedic knowledge and calm demeanor I am a slapdash toddler with an attention deficit issue. Years of working for myself on small-scale arts projects have given me insight into depths of human expression that are frankly irrelevant when you've got the medics on the way for a K-Hole casualty, the sound-system is making the office vibrate and your bar manager has gone AWOL. This was very much a case of HANG ON, and I'm relieved my people skills, desire to push myself and the team's patience saw me through!
Logistical management is not my natural environment, but it is essential to get out of your comfort zone and learn. Whilst I doubt I have a glittering career in event management ahead of me I do have a new appreciation for and understanding of the work it takes to create a festival. I also have new vocabulary that will help me work better on site as a creative producer, the satisfaction of having made it through with the team and a scar from dropping a cigarette on myself when I was too tired to remember how to smoke. Mission accomplished! Go scare yourself.
Stay tuned for Part 3 where it all gets a lot more sweetie-darling-air-kissy and we learn how to lure Grammy-winning superstars to tiny indie art houses......