A Day in the Festival Life of Assistant Event Manager

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes at The Bath Festival?  While the festival would have been happening, we’re sharing a series of articles from our festival team and partners to give you some insight into what goes on to make the festival happen! Below is a day in festival life from Volunteer Assistant Event Manager, Megan Robertson, . If you are able to help the festival continue by donating please click here.

The day of an Assistant Event Manager (AEM) could start in many different locations in Bath. From The Forum, Komedia, Masonic Hall or The Assembly Rooms. But it would always first start at the Bath Festivals office, collecting floats, any food rider that has already been collected, and taking any programs to one of the many wonderful locations in Bath.

Above image: Inside one of the festival venues, The Assembly Rooms

The food rider becomes one of the main jobs of an AEM during the festival. It is a list that is sent by artists with food and drink that they want taken to the venue. Often the festival staff get dried food, water etc, our job is to pop to Sainsburys to get the rest. It usually includes fruit, juice, selections of meats and olives or even yogurt and cheese. We then take this back to the artist’s individual green rooms and make it tidy, organised and ready for the artist to feel comfortable and fed before their set. This was primarily for musicians, authors tend to have smaller sets so often just ask for a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Above image: Megan Robertson in action at Family Arts Day 2019

After setting up the green room and ensuring everything is in place the next job is to greet the artists, and presenting them their green room. My favourite meet and greet with artists was with a Cuban acapella group called Vocal Sampling, who performed at Komedia in 2018. I went to the Premier Inn to meet them and take them to Komedia. As I went to meet them they each gave me a classic European greeting of three kisses on the cheeks, which definitely took me by surprise. They were so excited to be in Bath and to be performing in our city and it was so lovely to meet such a passionate group of performers.

Above image: Vocal Sampling performing in Komedia at The Bath Festival 2018

After greeting the artists the next job of the AEM is to help out the Event Manager. Usually this includes finishing touches to the stage, often making sure there is a water bottle and towel, the right amount of chairs, instruments and microphones etc. When the stage is ready and the artists are comfortable and fed, it’s time to start thinking about briefing the volunteers and welcoming the audience.

Above image: Stage set at Komedia 

Although I volunteer myself, another role is to brief the many amazing volunteers that help at Bath Festivals. When I was an AEM I used to receive a list of volunteers helping at the festival and what time they were arriving, at the beginning of each day. I then thought of the various stewarding jobs that were available, this changed depending on how big the venue was. The jobs for a volunteer could include, greeting the audience, stewarding by fire escapes or helping the box office team. They would often arrive an hour and a half before the show started and I would start the briefing by introducing myself then telling them their position for the evening. I would then follow with how long the set is, and if there are any intervals. The box office would have also given me a report by now which states how many tickets were sold and if there were any accessibility needs for members of the audience.

Above image: Standing ovation from the audience at Vocal Sampling, The Bath Festival 2018

One of my favourite parts of being an AEM is to welcome and greet the audience when the house opens. Bath Festivals have such a variety of acts and authors it also brings a range of audiences. Some dress up, some dress down, and some even come dressed in tennis gear for a hen party to listen to Judy Murray.

Above image: Megan Robertson left, with Hen Party who came to see Judy Murray, The Bath Festival 2018

After greeting and seating the many audiences of Bath it is then time to start the show. Throwing back to the Cuban Acapella group, who became my favourite start to an act. The audience was settled and the event manager told me it was time to get them on stage. I collected them to the side of the stage and they all put their hands in the middle of a circle and told me to join in too, they then proceeded to lift their hands and sing a note.

The life of an AEM is busy, hectic but always full of energy and usually finishes after every audience member has left and the green room is clean. Then back home to sleep, definitely with a cup of tea, ready for another early start for the next day.

Megan Robertson
Assistant Event Manager

We need you help so we can continue to bring the best of music and books to Bath through The Bath Festival and Bath Children’s Literature Festival, as well as our all year-round creative learning outreach programme. Please donate to our #BackBathFestivals crowdfunder campaign.

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