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can’t mix business
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Entertainment also takes an event from a two dimensional
painting and transforms it into an interactive multi-
dimensional experience. In essence, it’s one of the major
elements that brings an event to life.
Your guests will always remember that first moment when they
walk into the room or space and see everything for the first time.
They will also remember the beautiful girl hanging overhead
twirling on her silks; or the two immaculately dressed people in
matching white tail coats and top hats that roamed the room at
the start of the night, raining on themselves whilst being funny.
And your guests will “def remember” if the DJ or band are bad!
So why are performers and entertainers treated as an
afterthought so much of the time? Why are they the last thing to
be hired and usually the first thing to go when budget shrinks?
Having done this for a long time, I know that you can lose the
roving act at the start of the night, but you can’t have three
tables without the Tiffany chairs or black organza table cloths
you have brought in.
I do get that you can’t say to table 12, “sorry guys, it was food
for you, or the roving magician at the start...hope you enjoyed him.”
But also I know as an event producer, there are always many
ways to skin that cat and do both.
Not using entertainment effectively is like leaving something
unfinished. Admittedly, I come from an entertainment
background and storytelling is my thing, so I believe you have to
have storytellers or the story doesn’t get told.
The days of a lone magician and the typical corporate band
are long gone folks. Time to change up!
True, you can tell the story with lights, music and design – to a
certain point. But we are humans and as such we crave
interaction. We want to feel special and experience others and
that is what entertainment is all about.
The thrill of the unexpected, the opportunity to experience
what others won’t, the chance to see a moment on stage and
be moved, that is what we want.
And yet I see entertainers and performers routinely treated, as
one event manager said to me, like “warm theming”.
I have seen entertainers turn up to events and there has been
no thought put into who they are, what they do or what is needed.
I remember years ago when I was a performer, turning up at
an event and being shown to the dressing room that had an
open window to the street on one side and a running three
phase generator in the room – the perfect dressing room!
Very often the language of the performer is not the same as
the event manager and communication goes AWOL.
So how do you work with performers? How do you get the
best out of them and use them to maximise what you need to
achieve on the night?
As I always tell my stage managers, treat performers like they
are VIPs. Welcome them, show them around, (they generally
haven’t been onsite before and if they have, this will be a different
set up). Show them to their dressing room. Ensure there are
tables, chairs, water and some food and if it is being served late –
let the performers know. Let them know they have been thought
of and taken care of. All simple and you would think obvious, yet
so often overlooked in the mayhem of pre-production.
Make them feel valued. Let them know they are important to
you. You do and they will perform their hearts out in order to help.
Have a bottle of wine and some beers available for the band.
They will appreciate the thought and to be honest, most bands
and dancers perform better with a drink or two.
Talk your performers through the night and what you want
from them. Don’t assume the information you have given to the
agent or booker has been correctly passed on. It only takes an
extra five minutes and can make a huge difference on the night.
Always thank the performer at the end of the night. Again
such a small and obvious thing, yet so often overlooked.
On the flipside, too often I have received a high profile
performer’s rider and chuckled at the fact that I was being asked
to provide enough alcohol to get a battalion drunk, for a two
piece DJ act (the cost of a high profile act is not just their fee).
Riders can be huge, even ridiculous at times, however always
remember it is a negotiated thing. It is what the performer has
asked for as part of their package; however it has also become
a status symbol.
In the end it’s about the show and what your guests will
experience; so you need to weigh up the cost of providing that
performer with what they want, yet keeping them happy.
On a final note, always treat your performers with respect and
look after them. Do that and they will look after you! m
Stu Katzen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why is entertainment so important? Because like
the paint job on a house, it is what everyone sees,
explains Stuart Katzen.
BY STU KATZEN
The Art of Using Entertainment
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