The Art of Transformation

Another World Production specialise in the creation of transformational spaces, either for private clients, as part of existing events or, in some cases, with the curation of whole events. We view the Art of Transformation as a key reason for our existence and love making space for it to occur within bespoke builds and installations.

By Transformation, we refer here to the possibility of meaningful beneficial change in the behaviour, outlook or understanding of a person or organisation. The corporate term for this might be Change Management! In order to induce this change in state, AWP uses a blend of techniques and technologies with a whole heap of creative magic thrown in. Its a subtle art with a little bit of Hogwarts to it…

AWP utilises technologies such as Audio-Visual equipment alongside traditional, natural elements such as fire and water to generate unique environments for people to play within. We also utilise site art as a means of generating an overall aesthetic. The careful placement of sculpture, lanterns, carved posts, flags, flowers and the like can help direct a subconscious journey for the participant. It is these interlocking elements, melded often with an appropriate soundtrack, that form the vessel within which magic can occur.

Branching Arts Decor

 Whilst aesthetic plays a key role in the creation of any space, the most important element is the atmosphere created within. Whilst the form of the vessel is important in this – and plays a key role in transforming what can be an ordinary venue into something quite extraordinary – it is what you place within that is the key.

AWP like to create spaces that are welcoming, open and safe, where participants can express themselves within, where an interactive journey can take place – be that for education, entertainment or inspiration – and where transformation can occur.

For an example of the subtle art of transformation, I refer often to an experience I had at a major UK festival. This festival had spent into six figures on art and lighting to make the whole site glow and to create intriguing nooks and crannies everywhere to explore and enjoy. Except it felt…soulless…plastic. The sense I had was of art for arts sake and with no real purpose or attention to a sense of place. In fact, the art often overwhelmed what was a naturally beautiful site and seemed at odds with it, rather than embracing it. I felt like I was in a Disneyland Festival rather than Alice in Wonderland, which I believe was more the effect sought.

The Art of Transformation is subtle. Its roots are in the rituals, ceremonies and celebrations of the ancient past; in techniques used by the priestesses, shamans and mystics to induce states of worship or divine revelation; in the stories and song spun at sea, or around the hearth or deep in the wildwoods; in the construction of stone circles, temples, churches and other sacred places, or of the grand Roman Colosseum or Greek Parthenon. Its relevance, though, remains to this day. From campaign messages to raise awareness of Climate Change through to the need to create a more sensitive, active and harmonious workplace; through to a desire for your friends and family to have a memorable experience to take home with them, transformation is an essential tenet of events of all kind.

Nov 18, 2014 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Art of Transformation

The Importance of Community Liaison

This blog article was first written for RHEnvironmental’s Licensing Forum. RHEnvironmental are one of the UKs leading bodies for regulatory information, including that around Premises Licenses. I wrote a guest blog for several months in 2013.

This was first published on the forum in April 2013.

The Importance of Community Liaison in a Premises License Application for Music Festivals and Other Outdoor Events

Community Liaison is an area of licensing that is often overlooked by inexperienced applicants but the significance of which can never be underestimated. When one is looking to bring a large outdoor event into a particular area, be that rural or urban, the potentials for disturbance and impact on local residences should not be underestimated. Given this, it is vital that an applicant spend a suitable amount of time in consultation with permanent inhabitants of an area, taking into account their views and, wherever possible, balancing them against their own need to produce a viable, attractive and safe event.

In preparing for a Premises License application for a music festival or similar event, it is of value to see local residents as vital stakeholders in the project, in the same way that the Responsible Authorities, ticket buyers and crew members are held to be so. Though residents often have a limited impact on the result of applications it is important that any potential applicant be willing and ready to change their event management plan to accommodate the more reasonable and addressable areas of resident concern. This should be built into contingency planning.

Often, residents of a community can provide highly valuable local information, sometimes things unknown to an applicant, especially if they’re from outside the area as is often the case with the producers of outdoor events. Finding friends within a community can also be a vital line of information about how other residents are viewing the event as well as providing the opportunity of unofficial spokespersons representing the other side of the coin, should there be a lot of local opposition. Similarly, identifying key members of a community at an early stage is also important, as these should often be approached first.

In my experience, support often comes from those you least expect to find it from. In our most recent license application, we were warned of a gentleman on the access road who would inevitably prove a massive thorn in our side. Yet, upon first meeting, giving him the due respect to hear his concerns and meet him on a level meant that he quickly became one of our surest allies. Appearances – and hearsay – can often be deceiving!

Lets be honest, it is sometimes difficult to take seriously the views of some local residents. Some opinions expressed are deeply uninformed and anybody familiar with licensing multiple music festivals will know that the range of representations against an event emanating from any community will often take a few particular forms. The primary representations revolve around:

Noise Levels: Concerns that the event will cause large-scale disturbance across a wide area by the creation of excessive levels of music-noise. Suspicions that Environmental Health Officers are conspiring with the festival organisers to fix decibel levels at unacceptable heights in order to reduce the population and cause grievous damage to buildings, livestock and people. Unwillingness to believe that noise levels can be controlled or that they will be.

Crime & Disorder: That the event will lead to increased levels of off-site crime, particularly burglary, alcohol- and drug-fuelled violence and – of slightly less magnitude in law but of often deep concern for residents – unauthorised parking. The latter subject includes concerns over shaggy haired travellers, trapped in an anachronistic vortex emanating from Stonehenge 1985, marauding over local fields with their endless wave of carbunculous caravans and mechanically-unsound buses.

Traffic: That the roads will be filled with unskilled – and largely intoxicated – drivers aiming to score points by knocking over local residents, crashing into their vehicles, ignoring road signs and generally lacking in common decency. Concern that other traffic will ignore said road signs also, leading to mass devastation and loss of life.

Alcohol and Drugs: By their nature, festivals are considered to be – as Obi Wan Kenobi once put it – ‘wretched hives of scum and villainy’. Here, smiling but conniving bar managers will ply their – likely underage – visitors with dangerous levels of alcohol before pushing them out into the night to face the unending temptations offered by shady drug pushers lying in wait between every marquee. Once drugged, these victims will soon find their way out of the festival, over security fences and through the inevitably inadequate perimeter security arrangements, and into the local community. Here they will seek their pleasure by terrorising the local victuallers establishment, biting victims and attempting to stop cars on local highways by the power of their minds.

Whilst the above descriptions are meant to be taken in good humour, they each hold a nugget of truth as to where concerns can expect to be raised and where an applicant must be ready to show best practice through their event management plan and through their willingness to listen and respond. Its best, when meeting these objections from a local community, to recognise that these will always exist in the face of a new event and are to be treated as genuine feeling. The good news is that licensing committees are generally made up of experienced members of Council who have usually heard it all before and are able to make discerning judgements between representations with value and those without.

Our recommendation to any event organiser is to ensure that you have plenty of cards up your sleeve when setting out on your community liaison. Consider the value of a Community Liaison Officer and/or community safety patrol. Offer a resident hotline where they can reach you or a suitable deputy/office through the event. Develop a proper noise management strategy with a qualified acoustics consultant that ideally offers realistic and achievable conditions on music noise levels. Use marshals in the local area to dissuade unauthorised parking as well as raise funds for local voluntary groups. Hold local meetings with residents and the parish/borough/town council – these groups can feel excluded from the official licensing process and you approaching them willingly can only be perceived as a good thing.

During the last consultation period for licensing reform, ‘Rebalancing the Licensing Act’, much was made of the need to give local communities and interested parties more influence over licensing decisions that were likely to affect them. Though little has changed in essence, these areas of consultation mirror the real and perpetuating concerns that a need isn’t being met for those who can be impacted by events such as festivals (and other licensable activities – from clubs to pubs to late night caterers). By taking positive steps towards engaging communities, identifying stakeholders and taking a constructive approach to dealing with emerging issues, event organisers show best practice and ensure that they will be looked upon in a better light when it comes to the Premises License decision.

Nov 17, 2014 | Posted by in Uncategorized | 1,803 comments

Looking for a venue?

AWP has a great database of land and venues available for all sorts of events and activities:

  • Weddings
  • Corporate Weekends and Parties
  • Holistic Retreats and Ceremonies
  • Private Parties
  • Festivals
  • Fairs, Fetes and Community Events
  • Outdoor Education

Our collective experience of what makes a great outdoor event and which sites are suitable for what, makes the challenge of finding a new venue easier for you.

Some pointers to look for when considering the venue for your gig:

  • Capacity: How many can the site hold? Remember, you may have to think about the parking of cars and campervans as well as room for campers and the event itself.
  • Access: Getting in and out of the site, not to mention across it, is crucial to success. Poor road access with low visibility; unsuitable tracks or no tracks at all; proximity of local residents to main traffic routes and access to public transport are all key considerations.
  • Geography: Which area of the country do you want/need to look in? This is the big limiter. No point finding an awesome venue in East Anglia if your customers/family/friends/colleagues are all based in Plymouth!
  • Landscape: That may well be a beautiful site in an isolated valley, but thats an awful lot of marsh grass there on that site…and that woodland looks ideal in so many ways, as long as your main stage can fit in the small 8m wide clearing that you’ve been shown!
  • Local Residents: How close are the nearest neighbours? Can they see what you’re doing in that field down there? Do they care? Will they care when you turn that sound system on?
  • Facilities: Does the site have any pre-existing facilities such as toilets, showers or accommodation? This can be useful in cutting costs however its important that they are suitable and relevant to your event. Could you reduce hire of portakabins or get an additional source of income by charging for use of the better quality facilities?

AWP can help you with all these issues and more, both in looking at a site you have identified or else in finding a suitable one for you.

 

Nov 7, 2014 | Posted by in Uncategorized | 1,844 comments
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