Organisers are bombarded with emails, calls and face-to-face questions in the week when an event goes live. So, what would happen if, just once, we didn’t respond? Andy Rea, co-founder of 2000 Trees, imagines a world where only the organised, efficient and low stressed can play…
The week before any event goes live is undoubtedly the most demanding, when you’re stretched to your limit, and sometimes beyond it. At 2000 Trees, I’m usually standing in a field with set-up in full flow, 101 things to do and a brain full of other people’s problems; any downtime is spent replying to last minute emails or planning the next day’s priorities. Sleep is at a premium. Holding everything together is made more possible by shouting at my laptop at invisible emailers who can’t hear me, before replying helpfully with a virtual smile.
You know the kind of thing – an email question that was in the T’s and C’s you sent out weeks ago, someone asking for a change on the day despite it already being agreed, frustration bubbling over from others because they didn’t take the time to read the instructions, and so on. Individually certainly quite minor, but collectively, and in the context of preparing for the safety of thousands of eventgoers, it can get on top of you.
I fully appreciate that the festival only becomes relevant to those outside the organisation for a few days before it goes live, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating in the moment. After all, most of us spend all year planning our festivals, so why can’t others get their acts together and be more organised?
I’m not even talking about the average customer asking questions on social media that are answered in our FAQs – this seems somehow acceptable amid all the chaos as they are just visiting for fun. It’s when the professionals do it that worries me, despite all the emails we send chasing up tech specs, safety certificates, accreditation and such, weeks in advance.
So, what if I decided to block out the world, ignore all communication and find more space to focus on my own workload? Would I be stamping my authority or shooting myself in the foot? Wouldn’t it be gratifying, just once, to send an out of office for the last week saying: “tough luck old bean, you missed the deadline we sent you ages ago, so you’re out, see you next year”.
If ignorance is bliss, then ignoring latecomers should be blissful. It’s a bit like closing the train doors exactly on time and locking yourself inside, leaving all latecomers who weren’t organised enough outside on the platform. Potentially, I’d be brilliant at my job, friendly to deal with, well rested, with a lot less to worry about; a morale-boosting team leader – a jolly good bloke to work with – so we’d all have a better time. Alternatively, much shit would hit many fans and the wheels would come off the wagon, because it’s a symbiotic relationship – we need everyone on board that train.
I’m firmly of the opinion that if we do important things before they are urgent, we’re under less pressure and perform better at the tasks in hand. It is important that we all recognise good practice and continuously work towards improvement in those areas where we are weakest.
For those thinking of leaving it late on events this year, my advice is to first visualise what being an organised, efficient and low stressed professional would be like, and then try to live up to your new expectations. Alternatively, put yourself in an event organiser’s shoes and think before you ask that question.