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A Camden Crawler's Guide to Festival Management: Logistics and Collaboration

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This blog risks giving the impression that the festival manager is responsible for everything, co-ordinating every detail and straining every sinew. While this is exactly what festival management sometimes feels like, in truth running an event like this is more about collaboration, delegation and compromise.

Take our artwork for example. A festival's visual identity is a huge part of its image and appeal: punters old and new will judge the Camden Crawl, and whether or not they want to invest in a ticket to it, in large part on what impression they get from the logos and branded graphics we place on our posters, website and press materials. This design work is produced by freelancers who work on the project, a professional illustrator and graphic designer who work in collaboration with the us to produce the final outcome.

Visual identity is among the first things we decide for the festival - in fact, it's done so early that it's usually only me working on the festival and therefore directing the design team. So in the earliest days of the project, we're already collaborating with someone.

It's worth considering, too, the negotiations we enter into with local authorities. This might sound prosaic and boring, but it is absolutely crucial to have a good working relationship with these bodies and involve their input from an early stage. These people assure how the festival sits within a community make sure planning and safety regulations are met, and that all of the logistical Is and Ts are dotted and crossed. This may be the most tedious part of the job, but an essential collaboration.

There are many compromises you adopt to meet these demands and they can make a festival different to what you at first imagined. Working around problems or obstacles is a major event management skill that an organiser needs to develop. This year, one of the biggest challenges facing London music festivals - which by and large take place in the summer - are the 2012 Olympics. The Crawl traditionally opens the festival season, taking place towards the start of May, and the big months tend to be July and August - which this year clashes with the opening ceremony of the Games, on 27 July.

To this end, some festivals - Field Day and Apple Cart amongst others, for instance - have swapped their dates to June. This is tricky, of course, because the marketplace is now pretty packed with festivals earlier in the season - which, of course, makes it harder to sell tickets. Logistics and compromise, however, sometimes occasion these kinds of difficulties. You have to live with, and work with, them.

One of the reasons I'm enjoying managing the Dublin Crawl this year, in fact, is that it has so far been without much hassle and compromise. It is amazing how excited about and welcoming to the project the Irish have been, perhaps precisely because they don't have anything like this event already. In all, collaboration and even compromise - coming together to meet a challenge - can in this way be genuinely rewarding. It's not always all about the main organiser of the festival.

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