Over the past few months the ART31 website and Facebook page have been full of adverts, photos, and stories of the very successful event, UPrising, that took place at The Gulbenkian on the 15th July 2017. Young people and arts professionals came together to challenge ideas and ignite change in the arts through debates, workshops, and inspirational talks. I want to tell you about UPrising through the eyes of a young person involved in the planning and running of the event. I am a Youth Board member and have been involved with ART31 and TECH31 for the past 3 years. During this time, I have been lucky enough to gain experience in many different aspects of the arts and event organisation and UPrising was no exception.
I am hoping to follow a career in events management so when I was offered the opportunity to take on some responsibilities for planning and delivering the event, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to experience what it was like to plan an event from the start and see it through to the end alongside a team of arts professionals. One of my jobs was to help budget the event, alongside Liz Moran, Director of Gulbenkian. This is an area that I haven’t experienced before but Liz guided me through the process and I worked out how much we should spend on the different areas. This was quite challenging because there are so many different costs to consider and you have to make sure that no one over spends.
I also gained understanding of how to market an event from the Gulbenkian marketing team. I was able to develop my creative skills by helping to design the poster and also help create slogans along with other members of the Youth Board. Again, this was a new experience for me and the process of developing a logo was fascinating. It’s not as simple as you first think, it must be eye catching but not too complicated or it becomes difficult to reproduce and you have to make sure it suits your target audience and purpose. These are things that I hadn’t really thought about before and it helped me to appreciate all the different people that work so hard on every aspect of putting on an event like UPrising.
My main area of responsibility was to programme the music for the event, by finding acts that would perform at different times through the day. This was by far the most challenging role that I took on as it was outside my comfort zone. I have experienced operating the lighting and sound for a band but had no idea what to expect from being the music liaison on the day. I am not that confident when it comes to networking and so I found it difficult making contact with different musicians and didn’t know where to start. However, with a helping hand from Ali Chambers, I met Zoe Carassik-Lord at Pie Factory Music in Ramsgate and the first hour’s slot was booked with some amazing talent from young up and coming artists. I then used social media to help me find new musicians but frustratingly I seemed to hit dead end after dead end. I was also let down on the day when one of the music acts cancelled at the last minute, which I overcame by asking another artist to extend his set. After the event, I reflected on the difficulties I had faced and realised just how hard it is to plan and deliver an event when so many different people are involved. You have to be able to problem solve and come up with creative solutions on the spot.
I believe the event was very successful, with over 200 participants turning up for the day. The music got a brilliant response, particularly the Pie Factory musicians that played during the evening on the café stage. The atmosphere was buzzing with positivity and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the talks around them. Although I didn’t get to see a lot of the activities as I was busy seeing to the musician’s tech requirements, I managed to hear some of the inspirational speakers. I particularly enjoyed listening to Hamish Pirie, who’s determination resonated with me and demonstrated how powerful the arts can truly be.
My UPrising journey has been one of self-discovery, learning new skills and developing new qualities along the way while working with some fantastic and dedicated practitioners. I got so much from this experience, I learnt how long it takes to plan an event and how many aspects there are to consider. I also learnt how important it is to plan in advance and how important it is to network, so that you build up contacts. I will take a lot from the experience as I continue to pursue my dream of working in the events industry. I feel so proud to have been part of UPrising and very grateful that I have had so many opportunities through the Gulbenkian and its wonderfully supportive staff.