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Managing Urban Multi-Venue Festivals.

Andy Robertson

There are numerous festivals that base themselves on a single site where capacity is almost unlimited. These large scale festivals are often based in remote locations with limited infrastructure, to overcome these issues some festival organisers opt for more urban location but split over multiple venues to cope with audience numbers. 


These urban multi-venue festivals can be music, literature, comedy or film for example where smaller more intimate audiences are common. The organisers of such festivals must adapt to handle multiple venues, however, managing these may be similar to managing multiple stages on a single site music festival but there are some significant differences.

For a single site music festival with 50 stages, 500 artists and 50,000 victors for example the key requirements is to schedule artist's sets into manageable times for each allocated stage. A single stage manager or producer may be managing the schedule for 100 artists on 10 stages over 3 days. The benefit of having everything on one site is the easy access to all concerned, whether they are artists, backline suppliers or audio and light engineers any problems can be addressed relatively quickly.

Holding a sizeable comedy festival in a city for example presents new challenges for event organisers. Perhaps there are 75 different venues with 700 performers and an anticipated audience of 100,000 over a week. The scheduling of performances for each venue can become problematic with the key issues being the arrangements with each venue. Every venue will have different configurations and capacities along with a wide variety of audio and lighting capabilities. There will be separate negotiations with each venue owner and although it's preferable to have a standard contract with each there are bound to be differing requirements and conditions. Stage managers and producers will have to schedule their time between venues with the additional complications of travel time between venues as well as managing the very different capabilities of each venue.

The benefit of hosting a multi-venue festival in an urban environment is the availability of infrastructure particularly with regards to transportation and accommodation. Given that venues may be spread widely over a city it is key for event organisers to spend additional time on organising accommodation for performing artists to ensure that their scheduled venues are close to where they are staying. 

Although running a festival in an urban environment utilising multiple venues initially sounds problematic there are plenty of benefits, particularly in the provision of accommodation, availability of accessible transport infrastructure and food and beverage options. Although the scheduling and planning can be similar to a remote single site festival an urban festival requires little or no site build up or breakdown. There is also no requirement for
sub-contracting on site facilities or alcohol licensing and the number for volunteers required is vastly reduced. 

For any event organiser planning their urban multi venues festival using a software management platform like
Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors guestlists and ticketing.

Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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