Programming a Mini Festival

Programming a Mini Festival
2022-10-03

I am Allie, an Art History undergraduate student. For ten weeks this summer I had the opportunity to intern with the University of Aberdeen's Events Team, helping them in the organisation and running of their UNI-Versal mini festival project. The UNI-Versal project was well underway by the time I joined, which was challenging; it meant that I had to hit the ground running in learning what needed to be done, how to do it and to get it done in an organised and efficient manner.

Though I worked on both Hame and the initial aspects of the Music Festival, I spent most of my time programming the History and Heritage festival. So, what exactly goes into programming a mini festival?

The first stages are about pulling together ideas for events. The History and Heritage festival is being organised in collaboration with the University's Museums and Special Collections team. We started with Microsoft Teams meetings every two weeks to discuss ideas, budgets and timings. An excel document was set up in the Teams shared files which was populated with ideas for events, potential venues and speakers/performers, and possible budget costs. One of my first jobs was to set up a colour code to use in this document that allowed us to narrow down which events were confirmed and going ahead, which events were still to be confirmed, and which events we decided to dismiss.

From this document, I started putting together the draft programme. This document lists all of the events by date and time, the location/venue, the price and whether booking would be required, and finally, a brief description of each event. I was required to keep in contact with various speakers and members of the Museums and Special Collections team to confirm details, source images for the programme and promotion, and make sure they were all happy with the timings. This document, along with the images, was sent to the graphic design team, who put together the final pdf programme, which would be used for promotion.

At the same time, I put together a similar document, listing the events, dates and times, locations and venue capacity, which would be used for setting up the ticket booking system Ticketsource (another one of my tasks).

Once the Graphic Design team had completed a first draft of the programme, they sent it back to us to double-check that all of the details were correct. This part of the process, along with setting up the events on TicketSource, required a lot of attention to detail - it's an extensive document. There is always something that gets missed or mixed up, so we went through about thirteen versions before we could finalise it! And that could be for something as simple as removing a letter from a word (do not ask the Graphic Design team about the spelling of the Cruickshank Botanic Garden!).

We launched the festival online in the first week of August (and the penultimate week of my internship). It was very satisfying to see all those weeks' worth of work come together to be put online for everyone to see.

Published by Students, University of Aberdeen

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