Jamie Smith graduated from BA (Hons) Arts and Events Management in 2013. He tells us what he’s been up to since.
“I was recently appointed as Events Account Manager for Enable Leisure and Culture, who are responsible for events in the parks and open spaces in the Wandsworth area. There are two parts to the job, the first is organising and managing internal events as part of a team and the second part is helping external companies with their events that take part in the parks an open spaces. The first account I have to manage is a 5k run, for 1000 people, in late January. I will help them to make the application and then make sure that they meet all the conditions of the use of land.
I was putting together the Battersea Fireworks Festival this year. It sold out, so there were 50k people attending. That was my first event in the job and I was on the ground helping with the build and the break. There were a lot of people involved. One company brought over 200 stewards and security, there were police involved and, on the day, everyone fulfilled their role to make it happen. It’s been going for 13 years and rest of the team are very competent. They’d done most of the pre-production before I started. Part of my role was ensuring that contractors built or located their infrastructure in the right places, and helping the build run as smoothly as possible. It wasn’t all problem free, but you find solutions and the show goes on. The event itself went really well. I even helped two lost children be reunited with their parents.
When I was younger I remember thinking about putting a party on in a field. In 2008, I finally got it together and had 300 people at a one night event in a marquee. I made some money and caught the bug. I did a few more events in Glastonbury, Somerset and, when I realised you could do a degree in events, it was a no brainer.
My first job was with a company called Serious Stages. I got handed a wire brush and shown to a pile of steel. I did two weeks of 12 hour days, brushing. It was a kind of a test to see if you’d give up when it gets tough. After that I traveled extensively, building stages for them. Since then I have done loads of jobs, from litter picking and stage management to tech support. Because I’ve had this wide range of experience, I feel like I can relate to the people doing these jobs when I am managing an event. I know what they need, what’s expected of them and what’s expected of us.
I borrowed some kit from Serious Stages and converted a truck to a portable DJ stage. Then I took that idea of a small quirky stage and developed another, of which a variation was used at a festival in Europe this year, and will possibly be used again.
It takes practice to keep calm under pressure. There’s no point in running about and being stressed out, other people get unnerved and lose confidence in you, when that happens you’ve lost control. Even if you are stressed you have to appear calm.
The highlight is always to see people enjoying themselves. No matter how stressful it has been when you see that and you know you have played a part in making that happen.
When an event is on, the hours are really long and you have to keep it together and not fall apart. You have a lot of people relying on you and have to be sharp, despite sleep deprivation.”
What would be your One Piece of Advice?
“Take all the opportunities. Get involved in any aspect of any event, whenever you can. Volunteer, do the crap jobs, it’s good to see the whole picture of what is involved. Network, everyone you work with is someone who you could be working with in future.”