Producing art events

 8 February 2011

Hannah Standen is an Associate Producer for Artichoke, a creative company that stages arts spectacles and live events. She talks about working with Antony Gormley's ‘One And Other’ artwork, and how she became interested in producing art events.

The job of managing art events

Antony Gormley's ‘One And Other’ saw 2,400 citizens exhibit themselves on top of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Hannah's role involed production, and the actual delivery on-site:

  • the participant arriving
  • how they're looked after by the staff
  • the roles of each member of our staff
  • maintaining their rotas and their daily activities
  • making sure the experience for the participant being delivered to and from the Plinth is as smooth as it can possibly be.

“Artichoke’s work is primarily on large-scale outdoor events. The original piece that they did was ‘The Sultan's Elephant’, which was a 50-foot elephant and little girl that walked around the streets of London for four days.

“The way we tend to work is: we have an idea, or an idea is presented to us, and then we start to look how do we make that idea possible? Who are the organisations that we can work with? How do you rota staff over a 24-hour period for 100 days? How many staff do you need?

“So we really take everything from that initial idea of 'this is what the project is' to 'logistically, what does this mean and how can we make it happen?'.”

Getting into event management

"There's a lot to be said for having academic qualifications, but there's a lot more for having that practical, 'Yes, I've got stuck in, I've worked with these companies, I've worked with these artists'."

"I finished my GSCEs and started doing a course in acting, music and dance. I was convinced that that was the way I wanted to go, I actually wanted to be a performer.

“During that course I got the opportunity to work for an arts festival, just as an assistant. They called us 'trogs' and we would just run around. We'd build stages, we'd look after artists. Just everything that made the events happen.

“We'd be the little people doing all the building and sweeping and cleaning and sorting. And I completely fell in love, just there and then. I was 16 and I realised actually that's what I wanted to do. It was a far more realistic path for me to take than trying to be a performer.”

A career in event management

 “My advice would be to get as much hands-on practical experience as you possibly can.

“There's a lot to be said for having academic qualifications, but I think there's a lot more to be said for having that practical 'Yes, I've got stuck in, I've worked with these companies, I've worked with these artists, I've done everything through sweeping the floor and building the stages to artist liaison.' It's just great experience and no course can really teach you that. It's getting stuck in that's the most valuable thing.”

“What I really love is the people element, the fact that every single day you're meeting different people. And particularly on the ‘One and Other’ project, you're meeting characters every single hour of the day.”

“The staff that we're working with, the various artists that we work with, the performance companies, everyone from the technical crew to the riggers. It's just a fantastic thing to be able to be mixing with so many interesting people and to be finding out about their work and how it affects yours. So I'd say that's a real joy."


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