Posted in: Tips, Tricks, & Best Practices for Festival Organizers on July 24, 2018 by Ashley MacDonald
We all know it. It’s mid festival season. In retrospect, we should have published this blog before it even began but after the burnout starts to hit, you think of all the things you should have done before the season started. And in this case, it’s really not too late to take some of these into consideration before it’s all over.
Although we’re not festival organizers here at Marcato, we work with and speak to hundreds of them every year. Summer is our busiest time too! Whether it’s providing the best support we can to our clients or traveling onsite to help ensure festivals run smoothly, we’ve learned a few things along the way. Below we’ve got a few suggestions to help alleviate the stresses that can come with your festival planning and execution.
1. Make sure your entire team is on the same page
Teamwork is vital in any industry but especially so in the festival and live event space. With so many moving pieces involved, communication is key. Be proactive. Make sure that everyone knows what they need to. Establish your strategies, policies and action plans well before the festival takes place. Meet as a team to discuss them. Or, at the very least, distribute them appropriately with ample time in place to understand them.
Of course there will be situations that arise that you can never truly plan for. That’s just the nature of this business. But if you can preemptively avoid matters that can be solved with a little bit of communication and knowledge from your team, success is bound to follow.
2. Take five minutes for yourself every day
This one, in our opinion, is probably the most important. Festivals are chaotic. We get it. You’re being pulled in 100 different directions at once. You’ve got a pile of unread emails to answer. There are interns knocking on your trailer door every other minute. It feels like you can’t catch a break even if you wanted to.
You’re wishing there was a couch nearby to steal a quick nap…
If you can manage five minutes out of your day to simply stop and regroup, make sure it happens. It will do your mind wonders. Call your mom. Check Facebook. Play some Candy Crush. Get up from your desk and take a walk. Hold a Tree Pose. Whatever helps you to decompress for a short while—do it! Make the time. Your future self will thank you for it.
3. Establish effective timelines for getting things accomplished
Timelines are incredibly important. It’s so easy to procrastinate. We’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. But when you’ve got a festival to run, timelines are your saving grace. Give you and your team time; time to collect those vendor applications, time to contact and secure your artist advances, time to train those volunteers on your procedures and practices.
Creating realistic timelines is also a crucial part in all of this. You can’t expect to start planning a festival—whether for the first time or for the tenth time in April when it’s supposed to happen in July. Lay it all out there. Determine what you have to do each month (or week) and allocate the proper resources to see everything through.
For more on timelines and legacy planning, check out our blog about succession planning.
4. Eat healthy (and take your vitamins!)
It’s tempting to want to grab a meal from the nearest fast food drive-thru on your way to and from your work. Or even worse, you look at the time and it’s mid-afternoon; you’ve already, unintentionally missed breakfast and lunch. There’s every imaginable guilty pleasure snack surrounding you. And you don’t have time to think about the nutritional content of what you are eating! Just remember you need to nourish your body and mind with the fuel it needs to power through some of the busiest days of your entire year!
Pack an apple in your bag. Opt for the salad or load up on veggies at the catering tent for a meal or two. Invest in some protein bars or a bag of trail mix to keep on your desk when you’re pulling at your hair, trying to consolidate that one report that’s giving you grief. It seems like a no brainer, really but eating healthy can be a chore when it’s often the furthest thing from your mind.
5. Staff up with quality candidates
This seems obvious. Hire the right people for the job. Surround yourself with good, hard-working individuals.
Yet, it’s not always that simple. The hiring process can be tedious, tiresome and just plain difficult. Especially when you’re looking for candidates with a very specific skill set required to do a very specific job. Don’t underestimate the importance of creating your very own dream team. Find the ones who are just as passionate about the event as you are; the ones who go above and beyond to deliver the best possible experience to your attendees and your staff alike.
Gathering and creating the best team possible will make the crazy ride so much smoother (and more fun!) in the end. It will also do wonders for your sanity.
6. Get as much sleep as possible
As human beings, we need sleep. That’s just a fact.
Getting a full eight hours in each night, on the other hand…that’s hard to do even when you’re not in the thick of festival season. Trying to cram in more than just a few hours of sleep when you’ve got deadlines to meet, endless logistics to manage and a million other things running through your mind can make it seem impossible.
Try, however, to get a solid night’s rest days before, during and even after your event! Feeling sluggish and run down at the peak of your event is the last thing you want to happen. Worse, running on little sleep makes your body susceptible to sickness and that’s definitely something you don’t want when you’re needed most.
7. COFFEE, lots of coffee (Or tea, if that’s your thing)
If you still can’t manage to get a good night’s sleep, caffeine is your saving grace!
However you prefer to consume your liquid energy, drink up! Sometimes you just need it. ‘Nuff said.
Just make sure you don’t forget to drink plenty of water. We know how hot those festival days can be!
8. Lastly, enjoy the festival as much as you can!
Fuelled by a full night of sleep or by caffeine (or maybe a little bit of both?), really make an effort to enjoy the fruits of your labour. All year long, you and your team are getting ready to deliver the best event yet! Lots of grueling hard work and long hours later, it’s finally here.
It may not always be possible to step away and “take it all in” but at least give it a try. Catch that one performer you’ve been hyped to reference on your lineup, or maybe one you don’t even know at all! Round up your colleagues for a celebratory drink! Walk the festival grounds and observe the festival goers living it up based on all of your hard work!
Whatever it is for you, take a moment to enjoy it all. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!
And when it’s all finished and you’ve had some sleep, then start planning for next year…