Supporting your core festival team

Written by our Head of Products, Adam Pepper

I live in the UK, so I know that asking the question “How are you?” is a terrible way to find out how someone is — we’re always fine! Having worked with performing arts festivals for over twenty years, I also appreciate that the question “When would be a good time to ….?” is better phrased as “When would be the best time …?” as even an annual ten-day event brings year-round pressures and challenges. Good times are things that happen reliably in an auditorium, but seldom in a festival implementation plan!

At Artifax we’re mindful of not only when clients’ festivals are taking place, but also of their planning milestones, so that we can make sure they have the support they need. Setting aside the continuous artistic programming conversations for years ahead, the twelve month run-up to delivering a festival is reliably busy in distinct phases, leaving only small windows of opportunity for reflecting, planning and implementing improvements.

Typically, a core team will work on planning the festival full-time, handling the scheduling framework and contracting artists and works. Freelancers and temporary staff may be brought in to assist with organizing artist travel, accommodation and local transport. More staff may then be required for delivery, with events taking place in venues that are unlikely to be managed by the organisation. Afterwards, the core team catches its breath and refocuses on the next festival.

With each phase there’s a requirement for not only a single source of data, but communication and collaboration with new or external staff and third parties. In our experience, having a single source of the truth is vital. For all our clients it enables them to easily share accurate information with everyone who needs it. Crucially for festivals, it prevents a situation where large volumes of data need to be entered into a system as part of a handover from another department, which would otherwise cause spikes in activity, data quality risk and stress. For example:

  • If artistic programmers are recording their planning data in Artifax, information about dates, times, works and agent contact details already exist when it’s time for a contract to be produced.
  • Programmes can then be finessed with intervals, timings and other details of performed or screened works as they become known and can then be shared with marketing, box office and operations.
  • Performances can be imported into box office or pulled into your website.
  • Additional data can be added for production schedules and artist itineraries to be produced and shared as documents (that can be produced on demand or scheduled) or viewed online with restricted access.
  • There’s no need to maintain a separate archive: you’ve automatically created a comprehensive artistic archive that can be queried at any time.

Your core team doesn’t need to work harder to ensure new staff are supported, just smarter. With Artifax, they could:

  • Ensure every department is kept informed by using automated email notifications for important changes.
  • Track progress using tasks.
  • Avoid people getting lost in the filing system by attaching key documents to records.
  • Identify potential problems early with scheduled exception reports, make it a breeze for departments, freelancers and third parties to have the information they need in an easily readable format using standard or custom operation reports, and provide senior stakeholders with the details they need with statistical reports: no matter how frequently they need them, as they’re always up to date.

So, when would be the best time to start making those improvements? Talk to us immediately after your festival (or after you’ve taken a moment to recover!) and we’ll turn that debrief into a de-stress for your core team.

Events. Reimagined.

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