10 steps to staging your own show

Lyall Bruce from NEoN Digital Arts Festival shares his 10 tips for getting your event off the ground and ensuring it doesn’t crash and burn

Be original

Be original

The first thing to consider when planning an event or exhibition is whether there is an audience for it. Your event should offer something new or complement other events without being repetitive. It needs to be relevant to its environment and offer new ways of thinking. A strong visual identity is also important.

Start early

The timescale you’ll need depends on what you are exhibiting: for existing work, two months should be fine – just leave enough time to suitably promote the event. For our NEoN festival, we work about 12 months ahead. Things can happen close to the deadline but you have to expect change: it’s exciting.

Use the talents of others

Use the talents of others

Teaming up with others can generate exciting ideas, results and approaches. Look for people who have different skills to you, or who can help lighten the load, so you can focus on the main objective. For example, people with social media skills can help build an audience while you focus on the event set-up.

Where’s the money?

Where's the money?

Funding will always be short for creative projects but the enthusiasm and passion of others is a vital part of making things happen. For funding, NEoN always looks locally, nationally and internationally. However, sponsorship can sometimes come from the strangest of places – if you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Find the right spot

Find the right spot

Consider your venue early on in the planning stages of your project, but always remember that you don’t have to be traditional. Over the years, our NEoN festival events have taken place everywhere from inside an underground tunnel to a clock tower, car park, observatory, dump truck and on a hilltop. Think originally.

Remember red tape

Remember red tape

If you’re working with traditional venues then most of the red tape will already be accounted for. But other venues and outdoor spaces can prove tricky. Many local authorities have procedures in place and can advise you on what needs to be done, but thinking about this early on is vital.

Spread your enthusiasm

Spread your enthusiasm

You might be running the event on a shoestring, but if the project is exciting and relevant then people can see the long-term benefits, which in the short term fuels the passion to help on a budget. It’s about finding like-minded, enthusiastic people who are passionate about what you’re doing.

Start small, aim big

Start small, aim big

Knowing how large to make your event can be tricky: emotionally you should always be ambitious, but you need to prove you have an audience before you go and create a massive event. We have a small team with big vision and we’re getting there by doing a little more every year.

Be social

Be social

Make full use of social media to publicise your event. Making sure you document your event to provide content is also vitally important and can often be forgotten in the heat of running it. Press releases to the media, free listings sites and cheap posters can help, but the biggest factor is often word of mouth.

Expect the worst

Expect the worst

Have a plan B, C and even D to cover anything and everything that could possibly go wrong, from computers failing to misspelling artists’ names. For 2012 we developed an AR app and we were in the hands of Apple’s approval process as to whether it would be up in time, but we had a back-up plan ready to put into practice, just in case.

Icons: Timothy Hunt, illustrator

Discover 15 brilliant examples of kinetic typography at our sister site, Creative Bloq.