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Producing Events On Site

Client:

The Clarice: NextNOW Fest 2021

Though I was aware of my responsibility to work as an on-site event producer during NextNOW Fest, I did not predict that there would be things gone wrong or unpredictable circumstances that we needed to adjust for during the event. Therefore, I learned the importance of being prepared to adjust and remaining optimistic through flexibility.

As an example of an unanticipated accident, less than twenty minutes into the start of the festival, one of the student leaders I was working with informed me that one of the two softbox lights we had set up for their outdoor photoshoot fell over due to strong winds, causing the lightbulb inside the softbox light to shatter across the ground. I had been rotating check-ins with my various student organizations across the festival footprint, so I made my way over to the outdoor photoshoot location and contacted production representatives to ask if they could clean it up. The student photographer was able to work without the broken softbox light, but it was unfortunate that this incident occurred so early on in the festival, only during the first hour of the eight hours that festival attendees had the opportunity to get their photos taken. As a result of this situation, I am more inclined to thoroughly check the weather forecast in the days leading up to an event like this. We closely examined the chance of precipitation and temperature for the days of the festival, but in the future, I would also look into wind, max wind gusts, and other weather data. In the case of outdoor events, the chance of precipitation is a significant factor, but as I have learned, it is not the only factor to consider.

For the student organization Flower STEM’s virtual reality and projection installation of a STEM-powered night market, the exhibition ended up having a much higher number of attendees than anticipated, which generated the need for a waitlist for entry. We had not predicted this high level of attendance, so we did not prepare protocols for a waitlist. The event had unique demands for limiting capacity because there were only 4 Oculus headsets activated for attendees to experience the virtual reality world created by Flower STEM. The need for a waitlist was sparked by the long periods of time that attendees would spend in the virtual reality experience—some people would spend upwards of 20-30 minutes. We were happy to hear that attendees were enjoying the experience enough to spend more time than expected, but we struggled to regulate the balance between adequate time spent for each attendee and allowing more attendees into the venue. To increase each attendee’s time spent in the exhibition past 30 minutes, or even keep time spent at 30 minutes, we would limit the number of attendees who could experience the installation. To allow more attendees to experience the virtual reality installation, we would need to shorten each attendee’s time spent in the venue. Given the novelty of this event on campus, I wish we had expected its popularity at the festival so we could have created a waitlist plan prior to the start of the festival. In the future, whether I expect an event to be popular or not, I plan to discuss a contingency plan for what we will do if an event is more popular than expected-–requiring line management–or if an event is less popular than expected—requiring additional measures to encourage attendance. This level of preparation for any kind of audience reaction to events will be helpful for effectively managing the attendance at each event, particularly in an environment like NextNOW Fest, where there are so many exciting events happening at once.

Year:

2021

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