In my new role as the Festivals Coordinator I am the primary liaison for both our Development and Communications teams. I work closely with both departments to ensure that all deadlines set by the Festivals department are communicated and clear. I manage our branding, signage, décor and environmental treatments for all festivals. I also work on operations and logistics within all of the festivals. Lastly, I work on business opportunities for BOPA such as our banner program.
2. What is a typical day like for you on-site during a festival?
A typical day for me on-site during a festival doesn’t exist! That’s the beauty of festivals! Usually the festivals team is the first on-site so we meet up, grab coffee, settle in, go over the objectives for the day, make sure that our timeline makes sense and that everyone knows the game plan. We then usually have our production assistants that help us with any and everything that we need on-site start on their first projects for the day. Throughout the day I field phone calls, e-mails, questions from random folks that walk by and want to know what is being built, putting out “fires” that arise while on-site, etc.
3. What might people not know about large-scale festival production?
Large-scale festival production is all about making a lot of smaller pieces work together to function as one larger event. People always ask how we can “pull off” these large festivals and are amazed at how they come together but honestly, it just takes planning, a dedicated team and problem solving. All of our events are a lot of smaller pieces that all cohesively work together to make one large beautiful and fun festival! We have an amazing staff of people who are dedicated to their work, their craft, and what they do!
4. What are some of the behind-the-scenes challenges you face in this role?
I think the hardest thing to explain is that festivals and events don’t just happen or “pop up;” they take a lot of hard work and months of planning. I think sometimes as someone that does festivals and events for a living, our job is to make it look easy and fun, which it is, but there is a lot of stress in this job as well. These festivals take MONTHS to plan. As soon as an event ends, we are already looking forward to the next year. My family and friends are always surprised when I start talking about the next Artscape after we just finished breaking down that year’s festival.
5. Where were you before joining the BOPA team?
I started as the Festivals/Events Intern in the summer of 2015. I then left to go back to college in Boston. After graduating I returned as the Lead Production Assistant for Artscape in 2016. I then moved into a new role as the Light City Festival Assistant. I was then hired full time as the Festivals Assistant and was just recently promoted to Festivals Coordinator.
6. What led you to festival/event production?
I was always interested in doing events since middle school. I can remember going to concerts in middle and high school or watching the MTV Video Music Awards and looking at all of the production elements and programming and wanting to be the person that ran those shows. When I went away to college I immediately got involved in our Campus Activities Board, which was the programming board for the undergraduate students. After my internship in the Festivals Department in the summer before my senior year, I was hooked on doing large-scale outdoor events! I knew that this is something I really loved doing and wanted to do after graduation!
7. What is your favorite type of festival or entertainment outside of BOPA?
I actually don’t attend festivals outside of work. As someone that works in the festival world, it’s really hard to attend festivals/events without feeling like you’re at “work.” I always look around at logistical things or I am trying to figure out improvements I would make if I was in charge.
8. What is your favorite thing about festivals and events?
The moment. This is when you’ve put up all of the tents, banners, signs, stages. This is after you’ve put out all of the “fires,” changed the layout of a tent 15 times, helped a partner get their delivery vehicle through the footprint, spoken with countless festivalgoers, all after having five coffees. It’s the moment when you look around and see people laughing, having a great time, kids playing, vendors smiling and selling their books, the Ferris wheel is spinning, and all you can think is WOW… we really did it! The moment when you remember why you do what you do.