Allium has just turned five years old (or is that five years young?). I founded Allium five years ago in 2008. Time has flown by.
A digest of all things 'live' by Allium's founder Will Glendinning.
This weekend is the 50th anniversary of BBC 2 hitting the airwaves.
The launch was live of course. It didn’t go quite according to plan given there was a power failure. The launch was then delayed for a few minutes; the expectant audience watching a “BBC 2 Will Start Shortly” holding screen.
Doing anything live brings these challenges and risks. I have often argued that staging live events brings with it unique challenges, yet when I do, the example of live TV is given back to me as an example of how live events are or should be managed. Live TV has it’s challenges I admit, there is a key difference though.
Live events are the most powerful medium you have to communicate, promote or entertain. They should leave your audience feeling moved.
Moved to take action or think differently – if you’re trying to communicate, moved to buy more stuff if you’re marketing or moved by their experience if you’re in the the media, the arts, sport or entertainment.
If your live events aren’t actually moving anyone – seriously – what’s the point?
20 years. That’s how long I’ve been involved with live events.
I won’t lie, the first 10 or 15 of those, I spent a lot time suffering. I, like many others, suffered with things like: long hours, high risks, high costs, budgets evaporating, frustration, ideas getting watered down, sleepless nights . . . the list goes on.
To a greater or lesser extent everyone else I met seemed to be suffering with the same issues, so I thought it was just part of the game. An occupational hazard if you like. Sometimes these issues were relentless, people would be questioning whether it would never end! They’d be holding on for dear life until for the event to happen and then be over.
Eventually though, I got frustrated with all this nonsense and thought there had to be a better way. Were these problems really inherent hazards when working in or around live events, or could they be avoided? I took a step back and started to look more forensically at the world of ‘events’.
I’ve been involved with and worked for all manner of organising committees, these have primarily been in the sports sector, though some in the arts, and a few in the corporate (business to business) sector too. From the Olympic / Paralympic Games, Tour de France, the London 2012 Festival and more besides.
Organising Committees are typically formed to organise, create or deliver large events. This is all well and good, but how much organising do they actually do? Is a committee the best tool? And does an organising committee actually make a large event more expensive and more complicated than it needs to be?
Organising Committees should be great super powers, however I see so many people who are either supporting or working in organising committees struggling and suffering. Why?
I was rescued from a life of mediocrity and probably certain obscurity by discovering that my own creativity had a use and realising the power of expressing that creativity, or anything else for that matter, live.
Live events are the most powerful medium you have to communicate, promote or entertain.
They should leave people feeling moved. If your live event doesn’t leave people feeling moved – frankly – there are cheaper, easier and better solutions.
Picture the scene: you’ve got a product to sell, a message to get across or some entertainment to put on. You want a live event.
You decide you want to put out a tender to find (procure) the best company or solution – maybe with the best ideas or offering the best value.
Your tender, in summary, says:
1. We want a live event that achieves x,y,z.
2. Please send us a picture and plans of what you propose to help us achieve x,y,z.
3. Please tell us what it will cost.
You then get all the tenders back, pick the one you like and award the contract. You’ve a specification of what will be delivered and a price. Done.
Well . . . almost.
The new IOC president, Thomas Bach, made a bold statement today: “We have full confidence in the Russian authorities.” He was referring of course to the security risks, and issues, surrounding the soon-to-begin Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
From people protesting about Russia’s anti-gay laws to religious fundamentalists – this major event, like any other, is a ripe target for attacks.
Thomas Bach went on to say: “Security is the responsibility of the host country and we know the Russian services are working closely with different international services to ensure that participants and spectators in the Games feel safe and secure.”
Now that’s a statement that clearly says two things…
Earlier this week I was invited onto Sky News briefly to discuss the, possibly unofficial, decision to move the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup mega event from a toasty summer to the significantly cooler winter. This was met with outcry from some footballing quarters; there are eight years to work out how to get around the problem in my view though. Far better to host a world-cup without players, spectators and the (literally) thousands of other people working on the event melting. People melting isn’t great for the atmosphere or PR.
This discussion coincided with a piece in the Guardian by Simon Jenkins. In summary he calls for or predicts an end to these mega events given their proven ability to bankrupt a city and turn perfectly acceptable locations into military forts for a few weeks.
Other commentators, including David Owens of InsideTheGames.biz debate the merits of the IOC and FIFA considering a single location for these mega events. I would argue that this might happen automatically given these events are being increasingly awarded to cities with the most money. A trend evidenced by Sochi 2014 and Qatar 2022. There will soon only be a handful of cities with the cash required to win.
Is there not another, far easier, far more palatable solution? I would argue there is: quit messing around.