Newnham June Event – How It Went!

Newnham June Event – How It Went!

The run-up days to the June Event, between my last update about it, and the event taking place (last Tuesday) were very, very busy; while every other student in Cambridge celebrated having finished their exams, I was in meetings or answering emails or solving last-minute problems which had arisen, basically every minute of every day (with the exception of a few extra choir rehearsals that had been scheduled for our tours to Sheffield (17th-20th June) and Ireland (11th-15th July)). On the day before the event, we started at 9am (a little earlier than I like but I survived!) and finished around 11pm, and the day of the event was even longer: the event was set to last from 7pm to 2.30am, and we started with a 7.45am meeting on Tuesday morning and left for bed around 4.30am on Wednesday morning, to be back for 10am to supervise the end of the clear up.

The experience was a little stressful, and one thing I am intending to put in my handover notes for the next treasurer is a recommendation to supervise how committee members are running their budgets more closely than I did. I decided that as long as people were within their budget, they could be responsible for division of their own budgets, and just send me invoices as these came in. This works to some extent, in that the responsibility for deciding how to spend money within sub budgets should be the relevant committee member’s! However, I was never sure how many invoices I had left to pay for each sub budget, and I was occasionally sent through an email saying “Hey Emily, can you pay this by today”, which can be a little bit concerning if the bank’s fraud checks take longer than normal and suddenly you’re risking having people not paid on time and it’s all very stressful… Essentially, there is a line to tread between micromanagement (bad) and lack of awareness of what is happening (very bad). I veered a little close to the latter, and will recommend to my successor that they lean to the micromanagement side.

Another thing I will recommend, both to myself and to the Treasurer of the next Newnham June Event (2018) is to have two separate contingency budgets: one for human error/oversights, and one for possible post event expenses (e.g. loss or damage to any hired equipment). This may seem a little excessive, but it will make pre-event stress, when you don’t know if anything large will be damaged and if therefore you will end up over budget much less significant. In the end, we didn’t use all our contingency budget, because we caused incredibly little damage to anything we rented (the only things we need to replace is four headsets from the thousand we rented for the silent disco, and we were expecting to have to replace rather more than that – apparently the average number which need replacing after an event like ours is usually closer to 50…) but I was very concerned, after we used up a fair bit of it on human errors (which are unavoidable, of course) that we might have a problem. Luckily, we didn’t, but I think the safety blanket would be a good idea in future.

There were a few things I would now do differently, which I’m very lucky to have been able to learn about, but on the whole, the preparation for the event, while stressful and intense went relatively smoothly I’m incredibly proud of myself and the other committee members for the fantastic event we got together. Everyone we spoke to really enjoyed the event (which was why we were doing it in the first place!!) and was impressed by the attention to detail, and the overall vibe matching up with the theme so well. I still have final invoices to pay and committee members to reimburse (in fact, I’ve spent today going through receipts to work out committee reimbursment) but the event is more or less over, and I’m really glad to have had the experience I had, learning about treasuring on a much, much bigger budget than I’d ever have been able to learn to manage in student theatre. (I also learned a lot about student balls – I was so much more appreciative of how much effort had gone into the ball I attended at a different college!)

I hope you enjoyed this small insight into how the June Event went – if you want to see some pictures, you can check out the June Event’s instagram and facebook page (where the post-event video will also be published!).

I’ll be back to my normal routine of event updates on Fridays and advice blogs on Mondays as of Friday (where you’ll hear all about my next project, which is going to the Edinburgh fringe). And, just in case you missed it, this week’s advice post actually went up on Friday, you can go check that out here.

See you on Friday!

Emily xxx

P.S. To any of my colleagues on the committee, if you’re reading this – you’re wonderful, thanks for making working with you much less stressful than it could have been!

Newnham June Event – 11 Days to Go!

As I mentioned in my introductory post, one of my current projects is treasuring the Newnham June Event, and it’s coming up to the end of the project (11 days to go!) so I wanted to write an update about how the project developed and where we’re at right now.

Now, I admit, treasuring an event is not quite the same as producing a play, but I have good reasons to write about it here! Treasuring requires many of the same skills as producing, and I’ve learnt a lot which is transferable for my producing projects from the eleven months of work I’ve put into this event. Also, I would really recommend treasuring to people contemplating doing more producing, because it helps develop one specific aspect of producing in depth: budgeting!

My next post is all about budgeting as a student producer, so stay tuned for that, but as a student producer, you never get to work on as big or as complex a budget as you do for something which specifically requires a treasurer, and working on a budget of that scale is a really useful (and incredibly exciting) experience.

Background – What Happened between July 2015 and Now

I got the position of Treasurer for the event in July last year, after an interview with the event’s President and Vice-President, which involved me explaining what experience I had to date, and what skills I have which I thought would make me a good Treasurer.

Designing the Budget

My first task was to work out, with the President, which “sub-budgets” we wanted to prioritise over others, in order to achieve an event with the desired overall vibe she was looking for: an event for 1200-1500 people, with (seemingly) unlimited food and drink, music and non-musical entertainment (including some fairground rides) which tied itself together around the theme Cosmos.

To give you an idea, the list of sub-budgets for our event includes but is not limited to: Food, Drink, Music, Non-Musical Entertainment (“Ents”), Fairground, Production, Marquees, Fencing, Toilets, Decoration, Security, Insurance, First Aid, Employment, Tickets, Wristbands, Programme… 

What we decided we wanted to prioritise was Music, Food and Drink, and what we felt we were willing to limit was decoration, which we felt could be effectively created on a smaller budget with a great creative team, which we have! We decided we needed to make sure that the logistical aspects of the event were carefully managed so that everything necessary was fully covered, but without the elements of the event people would remember (food, drink, music, ents…) losing out!

Once we’d worked out our priorities, we had to plan our budget. Our event is funded through ticket sales, and we wouldn’t know until we’d sold them exactly what our income would be, so we created “guideline budgets”: a “minimum” budget, a “medium” budget, and a “maximum” budget, based on theoretical sales percentages.

We knew that some budgets would be fixed – e.g. regardless of the number of people present, lighting the space would still cost the same amount, while others would be dependent on the number of guests – e.g. food/drink needed would be per head, so we started by settling the fixed budgets, and then working out what was reasonable for the variable budgets, for the number of ticket sales of the three points we’d picked.

 Implementing the Budget

Once the guideline budgets were decided, in October we gave each committee member the guideline figures for the budgets they were responsible for, and they did research into what they would want to do within each budget. We had a series of meetings throughout the year, starting by discussing options, and as we started selling tickets in January, firming up and eventually finalising details, step by step.

Everyone else on the committee had their own tasks, but my main responsibilities at this point were monitoring the income and deciding on exact allocation (within the general framework of the guideline budgets) of every penny, signing all the contracts (along with the President), and making sure all our service-providers were paid on time.

The first thing we settled was a headliner, who we wanted to be able to release for publicity and to boost ticket sales. Our Music coordinator negotiated with a couple of agents, and we finally settled on Snakehips, who fitted with the overall vision of the Event, and had just released a chart-topping single and were about to release an EP, so were good for us to use for advertising, . We signed our contract with them at the end of February and then, as the year went on, we signed the rest of the contracts, with other musicians, entertainers, caterers, marquee companies…

Where We’re At With 11 Days to Go

Now, with 11 days to go, the event is more or less coming together: I’ve finalised all the contracts with everyone who is providing us with services, paid all the deposits and initial payments, and have a timetable of everyone else who needs paying and when. As a committee we’ve also sorted out the event programme, written our schedule for the set up on the 12th/13th/14th June and for the clear up in the days after the event, and all the decoration is in the process of being made.

I’m really excited, and keen to share more details with you once the event is over! You might have noticed I’ve been a little vague on some of the event specifics – they’re supposed to be a surprise for people attending, so except for the headliner, which we’ve announced, I can’t say more for now. However, I hope getting an idea of the role of a treasurer in the run up to an event was useful to you, and I’ll write about how the event went, with more details about the content, after the event (in two weeks).

If you’re attending the event, I hope this behind the scenes whetted your appetite, and if not, I hope you found it interesting all the same!

Feel free to like the post if you enjoyed it and/or follow the blog if you want more! Also, please let me know in the comments what you thought of this post – I’m still finding my feet with blogging, and it would be great to know what you like and don’t like! Is there anything you’d like to see more or less of in the updates about my projects?

See you on Monday for a post all about budgets!

Emily xxx

P.S. If this is the first post you’ve read here – welcome!