Festival Planning: A Focus on Staging

We caught up with Mandy Johnson, Operations Director at U-Live, to talk festival staging.  Favourite part of your job:Working with great people to solve problems and make it all happen. List of previous projects:Field Day, Beacons, Bestival, Camp Bestival, Eastern Electrics, Creamfields, Invictus Games, Night + Day, Love Supreme, Nocturne, (all UK), Stereosonic, Creamfields, Good… Read more »

by Unknown 2 years ago


Mandy.jpg

We caught up with Mandy Johnson, Operations Director at U-Live, to talk festival staging. 

Favourite part of your job:
Working with great people to solve problems and make it all happen.

List of previous projects:
Field Day, Beacons, Bestival, Camp Bestival, Eastern Electrics, Creamfields, Invictus Games, Night + Day, Love Supreme, Nocturne, (all UK), Stereosonic, Creamfields, Good Vibrations (Australia), Rhythm & Vines Festival (New Zealand), Snowbombing (Austria).

What was the first live music gig you went to?
Greenday at Nottingham Rock City.

Other interests:
Great food, good company; biking, snowboarding and walking. But most of all… a weekend at home with regular visits to the village pub.

How long does it take to plan and build a festival?
Planning is a 12-month cycle. The on-site period is very short in comparison: Typically, 5 to 14 days for build-up and 3 to 10 days for break-down.

How will a Festival decide on type of staging?
Considerations include audience capacity, level and number of acts, scale of production required, time available for build/ break, desired look/ creative considerations, budget, production and public access. 

What challenges do you come across?
Routine problem solving is standard process but more difficult challenges often arise when you’re doing something creative or innovative, or on a low budget.

Top 5 things to consider when planning staging:

  1. Safety First: Is the supplier reputable? Do they have risk assessments, method statements, insurances and structural calculations?

  2. Check Access & Schedule: Is there access for vehicles, equipment and plant? Is there appropriate time available for build and break? 

  3. Ensure it’s Fit for Purpose: Is there space to change acts over? Can it take the weight of production kit? Is a truck dock, steps or ramps needed? 

  4. Consider Audience Experience: Is the stage size (width and height) appropriate for expected audience viewing? Is a barrier needed?

  5. Is the Location Appropriate: What other content is to be built around it? Where will the audience stand? Is the ground appropriate? Does direction of noise need to be considered? Where will the FOH position go?